"The City Art Gallery"

Museum and Art Notes, March 1929

By G.H. Lardner

      The good fortune of the Vancouver Museum, in the recent acquisition of one or two pictures of outstanding merit, demands that some notice be taken of them in this its official organ.

      It was on April 17th, 1894, that the Art, Historical and Scientific Association held its first meeting, and of those who were instrumental in the formation of this Society none was more prominent than the late Mrs. H.A. Mellon. It was some little time before her death in June, 1926, that the Museum acquired a portrait of her and also of her husband, Captain H.A. Mellon, and these two pictures are among the first which were hung upon our walls. There were, subsequently, added portraits of others who were well known in the history of the Province, and this collection led naturally to the inclusion of such pictures as had a direct bearing on the early life of the city.

      The paintings of Captain Cook and Captain Vancouver remind us of the days when white men were only visitors here, and the Indian lived as the Indian always had lived, when this city and its surroundings were a small part of a dense forest. And the fact that the voyages of these explorers were just visits is exphasized by the painting of a portion of the little churchyard at Petersham, in Surrey, where Captain Vancouver was buried, and of the cottage at Marton, in Yorkshire, where Captain Cook was born.

      From those days on the early commerce of this port was carried on in vessels which entrusted their progress entirely to the winds of Heaven, and the prints we see here of those fine old ships and tea clippers which carried the Union Jack to every quarter of the globe, vessels which remain in our memories as some of the loveliest creatures wich have ever, or ever will, sail the high seas, serve to remind us of the past history of the port and stimulate our pride in its earlier commercial enterprise. To the eye of the mariner there is no finer picture than the sight of one of these graceful vessels under full canvas, not a mere indication of purpose and direction, but a creature of life, riding the waters and breathing the air, be it zephyr or gale, and, at the end of its voyage, resting like a tree in winter.

      From these one turns to a little sketch entitled "Hasting Mill," by A. Lee Rogers. Here Mr. Rogers has given us a record of a spot which, while the mill lasted, must have appealed, whether in mist or in sunshine, to many a painter, but few have had the privilege, which this artist had, of depicting the mill before the growing city had encroached on its then rural beauty. It is evening, and one feels the atmosphere of peace which, for countless years before, had reigned over the scene.

      The subject of the picture by F.M. Bell-Smith, "The Heart of London," is from another world, and those who know London can see the truch embodied here. The brush of the artist has caught the softness which time has laid over the stones, the atmosphere which the breath of a mighty city has robbed of its brilliance. Life is seen here in many phases. It is London, essentially London.

      In the two pictures, "After the Storm" and "Passing Shadows," Mr. Tom Fripp has shown his singular facility in depicting the soft beauty or the rugged grandeur of our rivers, lakes and mountains. In delicate mists and vapours he draws a veil over the landscape's more rugged features. Yet, not alone of mountains, but of woodland streams can Mr. Fripp's brush write poetry, and we hope the Museum may be able to acquire an example of these also.

      ( continues with discussion of artworks by Allan Edson, Alfred D'Orsay, Gustave Guilleminst, M. Sand )

      In the three pictures by Mary Riter Hamilton we have specimens of the work of a Canadian artist who has studied for many years in Europe, where her talent was well recognized, the canvas "Les Pauvres" having been hung in the Salon in Paris in 1909.

      ( continues with discussion of artworks by Jacques Cortois & Murillo )

      This, in brief outline, is a record of the more noteworthy of the pictures upon our walls, a collection which, we trust, is but the nucleus of a gallery which the Society is endeavouring to collect for the benefit of the lovers of art in our young city.