M459 | Self-portrait
William George Richardson Hind
About 1862-1863, 19th century
30.3 x 22.6 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords: male (26812) , Painting (2229) , painting (2227) , portrait (53878)
Keys to History
British-born painter, watercolourist and illustrator, William George Richardson Hind (1833-1889), immigrated to Canada in 1851. In his lifetime, William Hind drew several self-portraits through which he portrayed himself in variety of ways. Here, he is depicted as a watercolourist.
Hind joined in the tradition of artist-reporter and took part in more than one expedition. Most notably, he joined the "Overlanders" in 1862. Setting off from Toronto, this team of prospectors-to-be followed overland routes into the Fraser River and Cariboo districts where for two years the gold rush had been at a fever pitch (it would end in 1863).
The Overlanders' expedition was a remarkable feat. Team members were among the first non-natives to brave the rugged North West by, among other challenges, crossing the Rockies on foot. During this perilous trek into the North West, William Hind drew pictures of what he saw. His time in the Cariboo district, which he and his comrades reached in the fall of 1862, quickly ran its course. In 1863, he settled in Victoria where he completed a number of sketches started during the expedition.
The works of William Hind were reproduced in several advertising, travel and newspaper publications. The illustrated press was rapidly spreading, which facilitated the promotion of the Province of Canada's expansionary vision. This vision would influence the artistic output of William Hind.
William Hind's style can be described as "hyperrealist." Determined to be faithful to nature, the artist drew the world as he saw it, without embellishment. He was opposed to the tradition of creating picturesque scenery to enhance "nature's order and relationship to humankind." It was a tradition to which most artists who came before him subscribed.
William Hind spent eight years in the North West between 1862 and 1869. After his adventure with the Overlanders in 1862, he settled in Victoria where he remained until 1871. In 1864, he returned to the Cariboo where he produced some paintings which illustrate the lives of minors and, as such, are very interesting from an historical perspective.
Hind understood that photography, although in its infancy, posed a threat to artists and illustrators such as himself. However, through clever use of colours, Hind was able to distinguish himself and reach beyond the possibilities afforded photographers of the day.
Throughout his life, William Hind collaborated with his brother, Henry Youle Hind, a teacher, journalist, geologist, explorer and author. Some pictures drawn by William Hind during his expeditions contained the written words of his brother.