from the estate of
In 1915, Cawthra Falconbridge Mulock was born into one of Toronto’s most eminent families. The Mulock name can be linked to a number of significant Canadian titles and accomplishments, including that of the motivator of one of Toronto’s major venues for arts and culture. At 21, Mulock’s father was bequeathed the majority of the 2.7 million-dollar Cawthra estate from his great-aunt. Dubbed “the boy millionaire,” Mulock’s father was responsible for the construction of the Royal Alexandra Theatre in 1906-07 on King Street in Toronto’s theatre district, which was deemed a National Historic Monument in 1987. Mulock’s grandfather, the Right Honourable William Mulock, was a Canadian Cabinet Minister.
Cawthra Mulock studied in Munich in 1934 and later taught at the Art Gallery of Toronto with Arthur Lismer. His artistic practice was focused in printmaking, but Mulock also worked well with watercolour, sketching and drawing, and mural work. His art shows influences ranging from abstraction, surrealism, and ethnographic art. In the late 1930s, he exhibited with the Canadian Society of Graphic Art and in 1939, due to innovative and progressive style, Mulock was chosen to exhibit his work in the Canadian Pavilion at the World’s Fair in New York. Working as an illustrator, Mulock wrote and made engravings for a series of books on architecture, ships, games, occupations, and bridges, some of which are featured in this online exhibition. His interest in Chinese theatre and culture led him to produce another illustrated publication entitled Shu-T’Zin Being a Tock-Pot of Chinese Gods, Heroes, and Demons, which was published by MacDonald Galleries in Toronto, which are also featured below. In the 1940s, Mulock moved to England, where he settled and raised a family. In London, he continued to produce illustrations for publications. Mulock had a group exhibition with fellow modern artists such as James Gleeson, Robert Klippel, John Pemberton, and Lucian Freud, at the Redfern Gallery in London in 1948. In 1953, Mulock took part in an exhibition called Paintings into Textiles held at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London. This exhibition inspired a collaboration of artists and textile companies to design fabrics for future fashion.
It wasn’t until 1970 that Mulock returned to Canada, at which time he settled in the Toronto area. Influenced by the charitable history of his family and his passion for nature, Cawthra Mulock was philanthropic in his own right. While living on a 108-hectare property north of Newmarket, Mulock planted over 10,000 pine trees in an effort to create refuge for wildlife. Mulock died in 1998, but his property was donated to Ontario Nature and was named the Cawthra Mulock Nature Reserve in 2003.
Through this selection of art from his estate, it is clear what Cawthra Mulock was inspired by nature and culture. His works display the dedication of Mulock’s artistic practice as he challenged himself to work with different styles, techniques and mediums throughout the seasons of his life.
- Aurora Cacioppo, Interim Curator