Audubon / Havell / Loates, Original Graphic Prints
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The Artist
M. Bernard Loates

Murphy Bernard Loates

 Born in 1945 – Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Bernard, the son of a Toronto Commercial artist, was one of four gifted brothers and the twin brother of the internationally famous wildlife painter Glen Loates. 

Brought up on what were the outskirts of Willowdale, which was still rural in the 1950’s, Bernie and his brother Glen drew close to nature and both developed a passion for the outdoors and being a student of fine art.  Their first major influence was by the famous Toronto painter Frederick Brigden.  Mr. Brigden painted the pastoral scenes of the Don Valley with its cows and other domestic animals.  The two Loates boys were taught by the aging Mr. Brigden in capturing animal anatomy on canvas and it directed their course ahead.  Both Bernard and Glen would sketch with prodigious energy on the banks of the Don River and at the City’s Riverdale Zoo. 

Bernard pursued the art of printmaking and advanced to become the most important printer in Canada.  In the mid 60’s Bernie founded Nature Impressions, a wildly successful business that printed Glen’s art in limited edition and open edition form.  Bernie’s business acumen is legendary in the Loates family.  “He’s got a definite Midas touch”, say Jim Loates, a third brother.  In ’74, Bernie’s own publishing company, Cerebrus Publishing masterminded the production of The Art of Glen Loates in both trade and limited editions.  The trade edition, co-published with Prentice-Hall had a second printing of 35,000, making it the best-selling collection of any living Canadian artist’s work. 

As remarkable as the success of the trade edition was, it was the limited edition of 300 that truly broke records.  With an initial subscriber price of $600 in ’75, the resale value had rocketed to $4,890 before the book even appeared in September of that year, and in January of ’76 a Texan sold a copy of $5,200.  Printed on 100-per-cent rag paper and hand-bound in steer hide, each volume came in a hand-rubbed cherry wood case along with an original Loates lithograph of a North American bison.  When two top publishing houses and film separating houses turned down the project claiming the quality the Loates brothers demanded was impossible to attain, Bernie spent four years solving the technical difficulties on his own.  He hired a European colour specialist and bought his own press.  Bernard devised a new method of getting the ink to sit on the high quality, highly porous paper.  The book’s publication is nothing short of a landmark in Canadian book publishing.  “The Loates book is the finest ever produced in Canada,” says Toronto antiquity dealer Jack Joran.

In the 1980’s, Bernard had the opportunity to be Mr. A.J. Casson’s printmaker.  Mr. Casson, who was the last living member of the Group of Seven, would only have Bernard Loates print his images.  Some of the finest prints ever made (both lithographs and serigraphs) were executed by the hand of Bernie and many of the Casson's prints fetch thousands of dollars today on the open market.

In the late 80’s and early 1990’s, Loates tackled his most challenging and creative project.  The John James Audubon Master edition series of prints are among the finest made prints in the world and in 1993 Bernard was awarded for his unparalleled achievement with the prestigious Gutenberg Award of Excellence. 

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