By representing the human figure in a natural setting, Holgate avoided the controversy fomented by reactionary critics who doubted whether the nude had a place in Canadian art. In The Bathers, the two figures dominate the space of the painting, their heads and curved backs describing a sweeping circular movement. Holgate combined them skilfully with the landscape, through not only the repeated outlines but also the tonalities: the whiteness of the water’s foam is echoed in the towels, and the shades of brown, yellow and green in the rocks and foliage are reflected in the flesh tones.
Edwin Holgate (1892-1977), The Bathers / Les baigneuses, 1937. Purchase, Robert Lindsay Fund / Achat, Robert Lindsay Fund