M982.531.1 | Montreal from Priest Farm

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Montreal from Priest Farm
1839, 19th century
Watercolour on paper
25.2 x 34.3 cm
Gift of Mr. N. B. Ivory
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Painting (2229) , painting (2227)
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This south-easterly view shows the Sulpician farm - or Priest's Farm - on the right and, across the slopes of Mount Royal to the left, the city, where the Church of Notre-Dame can be seen emerging from behind the trees. The still rural nature of most of west Montreal at the time is very clearly portrayed in this work. However, the St. Antoine suburb, on the right just beyond the row of trees, has expanded , reaching as far west as Canning Street and north to Dorchester Street. Although unsigned, the watercolour is almost certainly the work of Philip Bainbrigge. Like many British officer-painters, Bainbrigge received his artistic training at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. There, he was instructed in the proper use of perspective and in the handling of light and shade, and he employed these techniques with an ease and spontaneity well-suited to the principles of landscape painting. His rather individual style, while in accordance with the artistic trends of the time, resulted in watercolours that are quite distinctive. A thematic analysis of Bainbrigge's work reveals a definite predilection for depicting rural landscapes - either in summer or winter - into which he would work whatever section of the city he could see from his vantage point. His palette thus consisted of a range of natural colours, such as browns, reds and dark greens, which he applied in varying degrees of thickness. This interest in nature and rural landscape prompted the artist to use a high horizon line, which allowed him to include the city's more prominent or recognizable buildings. Bainbrigge made skilled use of dramatic chiaroscuro effects, ans these important buildings often stand out in the distance, shimmering in a stark light. The minor buildings are depicted here with very little detailing and appear sketchy and overwhelmed by the surrounding landscape. The foreground is composed so as to encourage the viewer to enter the scene and share the artist's experience of the landscape. (Excerpt from: GRAHAM, Conrad. Mont-Royal - Ville Marie : Early Plans and Views of Montreal, McCord Museum of Canadian History, p.103.)