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Thousand Islands Artist: Alfred Worsley Holdstock

Alfred Worsley Holdstock [1820?-1901] moved from England to Montreal about 1850. There he taught drawing at the National School. Holdstock eventually abandoned teaching in order to concentrate on painting. He painted many oil, watercolour, and pastel views of the Ottawa Valley, Laurentians, Thousand Islands, and the Red River.

Alfred Worsley Holdstock

[Thousand Islands]. 12 ½ x 20 ½ inches. watercolour on paper. [c1881].


Provenance: Manuge Galleries, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Bibliography: Ottawa, Catalogue Of The National Gallery Of Canada II pp. 131-132; Harper, Early Painters And Engravers, p. 160; Harper, Painting in Canada, p. 106.

Holdstock's work may strike us as that of a rather naive journeyman painter, but it offers a period charm, and is not without value in the current art market, as evidenced by this exchange with appraiser John Sewell:

Q: This painting was handed down through my wife's great aunt, who acquired it in Montreal some time between 1940 and the 1960s. It's by A. W. Holdstock, of Montreal, and measures 38 by 64 cm (15 by 25 inches). The painting is described as 'Natives canoeing on the river in the Thousand Islands area.' I believe it's done in watercolour or conté crayon.

-- Terry, Guelph

A: This is typical of Alfred Worsley Holdstock's work. He's known for painting First Nations scenes in the Thousand Islands, as well as in Quebec, Manitoba, the Yukon and along the Ottawa River.

He was born in England in 1820 and died in Montreal in 1901, where he had immigrated to in 1850 and took up teaching, showing wealthy people how to draw. Later he put all his time and energy into pursuing his own work. Holdstock was a contemporary of Cornelius Krieghoff and you can see similarities in their work. This painting likely dates to between 1850 and 1870.

It's a nice example and any work depicting First Nations scenes is desirable these days. In the current market I think your painting should be worth about $3,500.

By Paul Malo

Posted in: Artists
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Comment by: Susam ( )
Left at: 9:02 AM Friday, July 16, 2010
Hello Paul,
I wonder if you would have any more information on Alfred Worsley Holdstock or if you would know where I could find this. I've recently found out that I am a distant relative of his and I would love to find out more about him and his work.
Thanks for your time.
Comment by: Karen ( )
Left at: 5:34 PM Friday, January 14, 2011
My husband is the great-grandson of A.W. Holdstock. I would love to surprise him with one of his grandfather's works. I have a friend of my son's who is an art dealer looking for me. I love A.W. Holdstock's subjects and use of color.
Comment by: Neil ( )
Left at: 4:46 PM Saturday, July 27, 2013

Today, I purchased for re-sale, a typical river / lake scene by Alfred Worsley Holdstock. If still interested, please contact me for details.
Beverley Scoulding
Comment by: Beverley Scoulding ( )
Left at: 4:48 PM Thursday, December 19, 2013
I have a painting by A. W. Holdstock. It is a pastel of the 1,000 Islands. This painting has been in our family and handed down through the generations. Contact me only if you are seriously interested.
Candi Kocher
Comment by: Candi Kocher
Left at: 3:54 PM Thursday, February 25, 2016
I am interested in buying works from Alfred Worsley Holdstock, or aka AW Holdstock.

Please contact me via email.

Thank you,

Comment by: Neil
Left at: 8:47 PM Wednesday, March 16, 2016

March 16 2016, Morrisburg, Ontario

I still have a watercolour by Alfred Worsley Holdstock. If interested in viewing and discussing value, please contact me.
Susie Smith
Comment by: Susie Smith
Left at: 9:02 PM Wednesday, March 16, 2016
I suggest that Neil and Candi contact me at info@thousandislandslife. com (no space) and I will give you each others contact information.