Mark ‘Chester’ Dalson

Born: 1906?

Chester Dalson. Painter. Nova Scotia. Active first half of the 20th century.

The mystery surrounding the painter Chester Dalson from Nova Scotia.

“In the winter of 1938, the last in a series of three exhibitions of contemporary art was mounted at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The first had focused on cubism and abstract art, the second on fantastic art, dada and surrealism and this last one showcased “Masters of Popular Painting” — artists who worked in a style that is now often called naive.

Great pains were taken in the preface to the catalogue to explain to exhibition visitors they should not expect to see “folk art” by anonymous artists, but that they would see the work of “painters of marked and consistent personality.” Some 20 artists from Europe and North America were included, exhibiting a total of about 150 works. Perhaps the most famous exhibitor was the French artist Henri Rousseau and there were two Canadians — Chester Dalson and Robert Cauchon.

Dalson is seldom, if ever, heard of now. Indeed, the biographical note in the exhibition catalogue ends with the comment “He left Wolfville (Nova Scotia) at the end of 1936 and has not been heard of since.” *

* From an article by Gay Guthrie, 2012 in the

The CHIN database lists a Mark Dalson who painted under the artist name Chester Dalson.

A Google search of his name turns up a curious article in the Montreal Gazette of May 9, 1938 about a man named Mark Dalson who turned up in St. John, New Brunswick “between jobs” and said that he was the missing artist whose work was “attracting so much attention in New York city”

Mention of him is made also in the Frick Art Reference Library.

There is a story here. I wonder what it is. It would be nice to locate a work by this artist. He was in some very illustrious company in the 1930’s.

The Montreal Gazette, 1938:,1043895&hl=en

The Canadian Heritage Information Network:;jsessionid=0EB16B68690080DA998EECB250A96145?rID=3916&pID=243&lang=en&qlang=fr&fID=2&ps=50&sort=AM_ASC