"Her landscapes are living examples that nature is a source and not a standard, and she has the courage to create landscapes, and not copy them literally."
(Arthur Lismer, 1934)
Sarah Robertson studied and worked in Montreal, and her images of the urban and rural environment were painted in and around the city, on the Île d'Orléans, and in rural Vermont. Although primarily a landscape painter in oil, she also painted watercolours and still lifes. At the Art Association of Montreal she studied under William Brymner, Maurice Cullen, and Randolph Hewton and was awarded honours in Life Drawing, Painting and Composition. Her paintings were included in the 1924 and 1925 exhibitions of Canadian art at Wembley, England, and she was invited to contribute to the Group of Seven exhibitions in 1928, 1930, and 1931.
Robertson was at the centre of the group of women who painted and worked together for many years after the Beaver Hall Group (1920-21) disbanded. This association of nineteen Montreal artists, eight of whom were women, had been committed to developing distinctive artistic visions, while acknowledging the influence of the Group of Seven and French modernism. From this time, Robertson maintained a long correspondence with A.Y. Jackson, who had a great respect for her critical judgment. She and the artist Prudence Heward were particularly close friends over a thirty-year period, and some of Robertson's paintings were inspired by her visits to the Hewards' summer home near Brockville.
Robertson was a founding member of the Canadian Group of Painters in 1933, and exhibited with them for many years. This group was instrumental in establishing a new direction for Canadian art, expressing the diversity of the Canadian experience of the landscape, and building on the vision of the Group of Seven, which had disbanded in 1932.
Robertson's work was recognized in a memorial exhibition held at the National Gallery in 1951.