Estate of Douglas Duncan, Picture Loan Society, Toronto
Private Collection, Toronto
David Milne Jr. and David P. Silcox, David B. Milne, Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Volume 1: 1882-1928, 201.22, p. 292, reproduced.
In the autumn of 1920, just a year after his intense and spectacular work painting the battlefields of France and Belgium in the wake of the Great War, as it was then called, Milne was perhaps at the peak of his powers. He was healthy, technically able to do almost anything he wanted in oil or watercolour, mature but still innovative in his thinking about aesthetic issues, and ambitious to tackle new problems. His production in the winter and spring of 1919-1920 was the highest he ever achieved in his life, and 1920 was also the year that he painted more outstanding masterpieces than any other in his long career.
This fine landscape was the concluding work of a busy late summer and early fall, when Milne also painted, just three weeks earlier, the watercolour Kelly Ore Bed (recently sold by Sotheby's at a record $244,000), followed by Reflections, Bishop's Pond (AGO), Pink Reflections, Bishop's Pond (NGC), Weed Iron Mines (NGC), and Pool and Contours (NGC), all major works.
This canvas, the summation of an incredible run of work, was painted at a location that Milne did not often visit – a place called Tanner's, which was about five kilometres west of Boston Corners. Milne's Boston Corners Painting Note 124 is helpful in reading it and understanding his intentions in this impressive and subtle composition:
...the picture has more than the usual amount of detail and is well controlled throughout. Contours have been used
1. To mark shapes, as in many previous pictures, and
2. To emphasize shapes – patches – in the three fields on the left and one in the upper right as well as in several other places, notably to emphasize the line of the road. The following features are of interest –
The green wood at the left
The road, particularly the longer section
The group of shapes that contains the house, particularly the lower willow tree
The middle band of the picture which contains the group of small farm buildings
A number of the smaller trees, for instance the little forked one below the farther farm buildings, the most distant line of separate trees – cobalt green – the harp-shaped elm at the upper turn of the road, the first tree above the roof of the house.
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