Douglas Duncan, Picture Loan Society, Toronto
Estate of E.R. Hunter, West Palm Beach, Florida
Milne's fantasy paintings of the 1940s were motivated in large part by his becoming a father rather late in his life. The children's toys around the house in Uxbridge, where he then lived, and his rather sardonic recollections of biblical stories from his own childhood combined to produce such enchanting series of works as Noah and the Ark and Mount Ararat III. Other similar works were The Saint (St. Francis in Ontario's northern bush with racoons, bears, and porcupines) , a long series of Ascensions in which Christ is a chimera in the sky above Uxbridge or Palgrave, and of Jonah's return from his voyage at Union Station in Toronto.
These amusing and cheerful paintings were accompanied by other subjects such as children burning autumn leaves, still lifes of baby bottles with flowers, teddy bears and toy trains, penguins, and monkeys. The germ for another long series of paintings was Milne's reading a book about old playing cards.
Milne's aesthetic concerns continued to develop throughout this period, however, and he continued to create landscapes during camping trips in the autumn and from his hikes around Uxbridge. He also found subjects during occasional trips to Toronto.
For Milne, the spaces between and among the animals spreading out across the land after the Ark has landed on Mount Ararat were of prime consideration, as were the mostly arbitrary colours he chose to use. The painting has all the vivacity, humour, and delight that one could hope to find.
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