Gustav Hahn was a muralist and interior decorator who pioneered the Jugendstil or Art Nouveau style in Canada. As a teacher at the Ontario College of Art, the Royal Ontario Museum and Toronto’s Central Technical School, he contributed to the development of many Canadian artists including Frank Carmichael and Franz Johnston.
As a young man, Hahn attended art school in Stuttgart, Germany. After immigrating to Toronto in 1888, he was employed as a designer by a major interior decorating firm. He created murals in public buildings such as the Ontario Legislature and the former Toronto City Hall, as well as churches and the residences of local elite.
In 1906, Hahn painted Hail Dominion as a part of a proposal to execute a series of murals for the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa with the Toronto painter George A. Reid. Using his wife and elder daughters as models for Mother Canada and the young women representing the provinces, the painting shows the artist’s departure from stylized allegorical figures.
Photography: Edmond Dyonnet Collection, National Gallery of Canada Archives