Robert Bateman (born 1930) is a Canadian naturalist and painter, born in Toronto, Ontario. Even as a child he was interested in art and wildlife. He found inspiration from the Group of Seven, making abstract paintings of nature. It wasn’t until the mid 1960’s that he changed to his present style, realism.
Bateman was always interested in art, but he never intended on making a living from it. He was fascinated by the natural world in his childhood. As a child he recorded the sightings of all of the birds in the area of his house in Toronto. Although the stage was set for an expert wildlife artist, Bateman moved on to be a high school history teacher. However, he still painted in his free time. It wasn’t until the 1970’s and 1980’s that his work started to receive major recognition. Robert Bateman's show in 1987, at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, drew the largest crowd a living artist has ever had there.
Bateman also has approximately ten books devoted solely to his paintings. Bateman's decision to produce reproductions of his paintings has been criticized by some who feel that the reproductions are "overpriced posters that cheapen the legitimate art market". The reproductions are popular items, being sold in over 500 stores in Canada and more internationally.
Today, Robert Bateman lives in Saltspring Island in British Columbia with his wife Birgit Bateman. Robert Bateman Secondary School in Abbotsford, British Columbia and Robert Bateman High School in Burlington, Ontario are named after him.
In 2005 Bateman volunteered for an assessment of chemicals present in his body that had a proven negative health effect. The assessment was sponsored by the organization Environmental Defence. 32 carcinogens, 19 hormone disruptors, 16 respiratory toxicants, and 42 reproductive/developmental toxicants were found in his body.