This is a view of the Montreal skyline from the rear window of Tinning’s atelier/apartment at 1178 Phillips Square Street where he lived during the 1950s. In the distance is the soaring hulk of the Sun Life Building. Tinning never tired of this cityscape and drew it many times throughout the four seasons. The Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery (MJMAG) has two watercolour variations of this scene.
In February 1944 Tinning observed a training exercise by the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion on Salisbury Plain. Conducted to simulate an invasion of Normandy the Canadian paratroopers were dropped wearing full gear alongside metal containers packed with mortars and ammunition. The object of the exercise was to drop 500 paratroopers with supplies and have the drop zone cleared of men, supplies and parachutes within fifteen minutes. One particular difficulty involved gathering up the parachutes that had become fouled in trees. The three paintings below show a progression of events as Tinning (an official army war artist) recorded them for posterity. At left – a paratrooper opens a container on the field; in the centre is a preparatory sketch of a container parachute fouled in a tree; and on the right is a “finished” oil painting of the scene. These works are in the Tinning fonds at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and the Canadian War Museum (CWM) in Ottawa.
In October 1944 Tinning sketched a “Fascist Statue” in Santarcangelo di Romagna. In fact, he sketched the Monumento ai Caduti (War Memorial) in the Piazza Ganganelli (modern photo at right) . Created and cast in bronze by Italian sculptor Bernardino Boifava between 1925 and 1928 this memorial depicts a dead soldier lying on a shield carried by two grieving women. Designed as a tribute to Italian soldiers who died fighting (with the Allies) in World War I this statue had become in World War II a symbol of Mussolini’s regime.
From Tinning’s diary: “31 Oct 44 The monument caused some consternation among other artists. I had only looked at it as a good subject (draped in the Italian flag).”
On the lower left of “Montreal 1940” Tinning notes the location as: “Back of Ben’s Delicatessen“. This Montreal landmark restaurant occupied the corner of Mansfield Street and Burnside Street in 1940. [It moved to the corner of Metcalfe and Burnside in 1949.] On the verso is an untitled painting believed to be the farmhouse of Tinning’s cousin Cyrus L. Merriam in Brattleboro, Vermont with whom he visited in 1938 during his training at the Eliot O’Hara School of Watercolor in Goose Rocks Beach, Maine.
In 1941 Tinning moved into an apartment at 1536 Summerhill Avenue near the corner of Côte-des-Neiges Road in Montreal. Below is the Victorian mansion on the corner of his street – later demolished to become the site of the Regency Apartments according to notes made by the artist on a matte for this watercolour. On the verso is a 1941 floral.