1960 Lachine, Quebec
“THIS AGREEMENT, made this twenty-first day of April, 1960, between JENKINS BROS. Limited, 170 St. Joseph Boulevard, Lachine, P.Q. and CAMPBELL TINNING covering painting of a mural in the foyer of the main office building:
1. The working sketch having been completed and accepted by the Company;
2. and in consideration that the artist will pay for all materials in the making of the mural;
3. and that the artist will pay all transportation costs;
4. and in consideration that the Company will pay for the truing of the mural to the wall;
it is now agreed that Mr. Campbell Tinning shall proceed with the mural, for which he will receive the total of Six Thousand Dollars…”
These three Jenkins mural study sketches are courtesy of the Musée de Lachine. In 1984 Tinning “touched up” the mural and received a letter from the president: “During the 24 years since you painted the mural we have received many favourable comments both as to its context and to the manner in which you portrayed our operations…”
In 2004 the mural was destroyed with the demolition of the factory. See photos. Tinning’s mural in the Jenkins administration building was his most ambitious to date. To accommodate a staircase Tinning placed four self-contained paintings down the left side of the wall and filled the central area with a circular collage of eight scenes. A cross-section of a large valve and the outline of a handle filled the lower right. Shown below is a collage created with five b/w original photos, seven photos taken from the internet and diagrams/pictures of three Jenkins valves also taken from the internet.
1960 Montreal, Quebec
“I actually saw this last night on St. Catherine Street: coffee-coloured; six feet high; navy blue pedal-pushers; Ballet shoes; cerise neckerchief; hair as shown, held by black ribbon. She had 4” long white pearl earrings. Oddly enough – she was very beautiful”… “also these – very thin (she) and fortyish”.
1961 Montreal, Quebec and Toronto, Ontario
In 1961 Tinning was commissioned to paint the skylines of Montreal and Toronto by the Readers Digest Company. These were to hang in the office of the President, Mr. K.P. Zimmerman in Montreal according to a letter dated June 6, 1961. Here are two watercolours (possibly studies) completed for this commission. The fate of the two original skyline paintings is unkown. The Montreal scene was displayed for many years by the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montreal and is currently in storage awaiting disposition or reframing to be hung in the newly renovated hotel. The Toronto skyline painting was retained by the artist and is now in the possession of his grand-nephew who lives in Toronto.
1961 Montreal, Quebec
Three murals (dimensions unavailable) were commissioned by the Bank of Montreal for the lounge adjacent to the main dining salon on the 14th floor of offices at 129 Rue St. Jacques. Done in a monochrome to mimic sepia photographs of street scenes from 1850’s Montreal they were painted directly on the walls so they were not salvageable in 2010 renovations. Photos: BMO Financial Group, Corporate Art Collection.
Early 1960s Montreal, Quebec
These interior design and mural sketches were for an office reception area. They are signed but undated. It is unknown if the designs were implemented. Tinning had many commissions in the 1960s. Perhaps these were for the Reader’s Digest head office building in Montreal circa 1960.
1962 New York City
“I went to N.Y. on July ’62 to see “Figure USA ‘62” at the Museum of Modern Art. What did I see? Did it affect me? —- A week later I did pictures in Eastern Townships – and enjoyed doing them like this [sketches are inserted here] Have I lost it? I’m now sitting by Lachine Canal. What is the matter? Aug 6 – 1962.”
The exhibition Tinning saw in New York City at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) was RECENT PAINTING USA: THE FIGURE (May 23-Aug 26). Comprised of seventy-four works selected from more than nine thousand entries, the exhibition included works by 63 men and 11 women ranging from 24 to 56 years and living in 18 states and 4 foreign countries. This exhibition “emphasized the wholeness of the figure, and its integration into a painting, that was formally consistent” and
“suggested that the logic of a new representational painting might build on the logic of an earlier abstract painting”… (from Clarity: The Art of Louisa Matthiasdottir 1999 Nesutgafan Publishing, Reykjavik, Iceland)
Perhaps this untitled landscape done in 1962 is the result of Tinning’s visit to the MoMA and his attempt to integrate representational and abstract art into a unique style. The scene may be of the Okanagan region in British Columbia where he painted in the fall of 1962 (while visiting his mother in Naramata) or it may be in the Eastern Townships of Quebec where he painted in the summer. Other dated landscapes of a similar style from 1962 suggest this is likely the Okanagan.
1962 Sutton, Quebec
This painting, a gift to the University of Manitoba, hangs in the Faculty of Law and was likely donated by lawyer John Alexander MacAulay (1892-1978). Tinning lived in Winnipeg from 1919 to 1925 and took art classes with Alexander J. Musgrove, a well known local artist and teacher who later became curator of the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Sutton Mountain P.Q., 1962; Oil on canvas; 37” x 53 ¾”; Collection of the University of Manitoba, Gift of Aikins, MacAulay & Thorvaldson, Winnipeg ©Elizabeth Bowes
1963 Montreal, Quebec
In 1963 Tinning created designs for the boardroom and reception area of the Stikeman & Elliott Law Firm offices. This corporate law firm is now known as Stikeman Elliott LLP. Their head office had been relocated to the newly opened Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce Building on the corner of Dorchester (now René Levesque) Boulevard and Peel Street in downtown Montreal. These designs were not implemented by the firm.
Reception and Waiting Room design 1963; Pen and black ink over pencil on paper. Inscribed in pencil on the lower left: “ G.C. Tinning / Reception desk + waiting area Stikeman & Elliot Offices 1963? Dorchester at Peel”.
Boardroom design (Blue chairs) 1963?; Pen and black ink over pencil on paper. Inscribed in black ink on the lower right: “Cork on north wall/ veneer (as door) corner to half east wall/ seats recovered in deep grey… / curtains open weave blue and black” Credit: Library and Archives Canada Acc. No. 1992-661-24.
Boardroom Design (Red chairs) 1963?; watercolour, pen and black ink over pencil on paper
Inscribed in black ink on the lower right side: “ Gold paper (Japanese) ¾ north wall/ Curtains open weave gold/ Chairs as is.”
Credit: Library and Archives Canada Acc. No. 1992-661-23.
1963 The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Montreal
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Montreal’s most exclusive hotel, underwent a major renovation in 2012. In its over one hundred year history the hotel has hosted the rich and famous. In 1964 Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were married in the hotel – their first marriage. In the 1960s Tinning designed elements for two public rooms – the ceiling of the Maritime Bar and the stage of the Ritz Café. These three designs are chosen from Tinning’s estate and Library and Archive Canada fonds. The two stage designs were never implemented according to notes made on the edge of the sketches by the artist.
1963 The Okanagan, British Columbia
From The Montreal Gazette Nov. 22, 1963: “A collection of some two dozen recent watercolors based on the dramatic scenery of British Columbia is on view until the end of the month… painting his impressions of what he sees Mr. Tinning also communicates what he feels – his awe and delight in the enormous panorama… He uses his watercolors somewhat like oils. His paintings are powerfully composed, subdued yet intense in color and knowledgably simplified. This exhibition presents an engrossing art-travelogue. D.Y.P.” Held November 21st to 30th at the Klinkhoff Gallery the exhibition was also reviewed by Robert Ayre in The Montreal Star on November 27th:
“…Tinning has worked in oils, but he always returns to water colour. It is his medium, responsive, flexible, co-operating with his eager spirit in a way that oils never do. His attack is swift, powerful when he wants it to be and at other times lightly skimming, touch and go… Tinning uses the white of the paper to open up the clay cliffs of Naramata… While never non-figurative, he is encouraged by the ponderosa pines to emphasize the abstract in nature…”
1964 Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal, Quebec
Christ Church Cathedral at the corner of Ste. Catherine and Unversity Streets was around the corner from Tinning’s studio on Phillip’s Square Street in downtown Montreal. Snow hanging from the eaves was an appropriate touch for a portrait of this historic building in the winter. Details are seen in the two pencil sketches below as is the design for the cover of the Christ Church Cathedral Service Christmas Program from the 1960’s. (Watercolour courtesy S. Bowes. Sketches/Program courtesy MJM&AG.) Tinning was an Anglican and particularly enjoyed the music, pomp and pageantry of the Church of England Services.
1965 Christmas Card
Tinning frequently painted scenes of his Montreal neighbourhood. The photo below (left) was taken outside his apartment building, The Linton, at 1509 Sherbrooke Street West near the corner of Guy/Côte-des-Neiges. Tinning drew the scene in black ink, copied it on card stock (middle), then personally watercoloured each copy (right).
1966 Montreal, Quebec
Tinning has inked at the top: “This is a proof set of 9 beautifully framed prints for the bedrooms in the Chateau Champlain Hotel Montreal 1966. They were taken from the Champlain Society books. The volume with Champlain’s Gulf of Mexico voyage. I went down to the John Carter Brown Library in Provincetown R.I. to make notes (colour) from the original manuscript of Champlain’s voyage and enlarged and changed some designs…”
From The Gazette, January 11, 1967: “The reproduction of drawings and watercolors from an original Samuel de Champlain manuscript proved an exciting and rewarding experience for Campbell Tinning. “It was a great pleasure… as it turned out to be an assignment which has combined antiquarian research with new painting and printing techniques…
It was with great care and some emotion that I turned the pages to study the pages of a manuscript some 340 years old. The drawings are quite small – eight inches by six inches, some smaller – done in watercolour with each one surrounded by a narrow azure-blue border. All the colors have survived almost as bright as when painted. The ageing has taken place in the paper itself; the actual manuscript is written above and below the little pictures in the most elegant antique French script… I made notes on the colors but relied to a large extent on the feeling… the ‘aura’ of the drawings.
Here in Montreal the printing companies concerned blew up the photographs to about five times their original size. Plates were made of these and printed on a special English watercolor paper in a warm brown ink. I then had an exact replica of the drawings to work on and painted these replicas in watercolour endeavouring to keep them as close to the original colours as possible, but intensifying colors in accordance with their enlarged size.
Two additional plates were taken from the Champlain Maps of North America, engraved in Paris about 1620 … At the lower edge of this black and white map is a border of northern flora, including the Canadian red currant and wild cherry. These two were chosen to include in the series for the hotel. I painted them to match and complement the other designs as closely as possible.
Certain of the reproductions were found to look well together and are so hung in different suites or rooms in Le Chateau Champlain to complement the color schemes… The completed facsimile reproductions are exactly like my finished paintings – so much so that when I saw them hung in a suite at Le Chateau Champlain, it would have been difficult to tell them from my original watercolors.”
1966 Montreal, Quebec
By 1966 Campbell Tinning was a well-established artist. He had received accolades at his gallery exhibitions and commissions from large Canadian corporations with headquarters in Canada’s financial heart – Montreal. But times were changing dramatically for Tinning and for Quebec. Tinning’s efforts to adapt to change is noted in this article in The Montreal Star dated May 17, 1969: “Montreal’s New Art Shows” by Irene Heywood.
“Campbell Tinning, long known as a master of watercolour, is not so well known as one of the first experimenters in the new acrylics, although he has used it to great effect in many of his murals.”
“In his present exhibition at the Galerie Gavreau he shows up both, with some oils.”
“This ability to control large areas of colour, full strength, as well as the variations and subtle gradation of its nuances can still be seen.”
Abstract art in a medium other than watercolour was not new for Tinning in the 1960’s. There are examples from the 1940’s and 1950’s. But it wasn’t until the 1960’s that he allowed these experimental works to be exhibited. This may have been a self-conscious effort to change with the times or an influence of the commercial art market. Perhaps it was a combination of both these factors. This experimentation met with mixed success but as Irene Heywood noted in her 1969 article: “Often most abstract when one suspects he knows it least, Tinning … with a strong line proves his mastery of form as well as his lyrical quality.”
1968 Baie Comeau, Quebec
Baie Comeau, Quebec, established in 1937 as a centre for processing and shipping newsprint to the American market, had its beautiful mansion hotel destroyed by fire in the mid-sixties. In 1968 Tinning received a commission to create all the pictures in bedrooms and some public rooms of a new 52-room l’Hôtel Le Manoir. He designed, printed and painted 135 templates (17.5″ x 23″) based on these nine legends from Quebec folklore:
1.”The Black Horse of St Augustin” also known as “Satan’s Horse” – a devil’s horse has its bridle foolishly removed and the horse vanishes in a burst of flame.
2. “Rose Latulippe” – a girl dances with the devil who tries to put a necklace around her neck to bind her to him. The parish priest rushes in brandishing a cross and puts the devil to flight. Tinning writes in his preparatory notes that this legend was “also used in ballet by Royal Winnipeg Ballet.”
3. “The Magic Fiddler” – roisterers on Shrove Tuesday dance and drink into Ash Wednesday. All that is left of them is their red touques as they have danced themselves into the ground.
4. “The Bell of Caughnawaga” – a bell cast in France for a village church in Quebec is stolen by Boston privateers. An expedition recaptures it and brings it back the Indian village in Quebec. Tinning’s notes “ it is supposed to be in the church at Caughnawaga still.”
5. “La Chasse-Galerie” (The Magic Canoe) – the story of Gatineau loggers who make a pact with the devil to steal a boat so they can visit their women. They are warned not to blaspheme during the voyage and they must be back before six o’clock the next morning or they lose their souls.
6. “Cadieux” – a voyageur lost in the wilderness writes his last poem on birch bark and it is found with his body in the spring. Tinning also considered using another legend, “Pilotte of Ville Marie” – a story about the first dog imported to New France that warns the “habitants” of a lurking enemy – but decided against this theme.
7. “The Lady of Beaumanoir”- an Abenaki princess is poisoned by a jealous lady who wants to get rid of her rival. (She uses a bouquet of roses impregnated with aqua tofana.)
8. “The Tree of Dreams” – based on an Indian Legend involving good and bad men and the serpent of the stream.
9. “The Phantom Porpoises” – a St Jean Baptiste Day story about revellers who come home from Mass at midnight and watch as a hundred dead porpoises on the beach come to life with phantom riders and swim out to sea amid sparkling lights.
[These hand tinted templates and prints were donated to the Société Historique de la Côte-Nord in 2011.]
1968 Winter Harbor, Maine
In August of 1968 Tinning painted near Winter Harbor, Maine. near Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. He made at least 10 pencil sketches of Ned Island from Grindstone Point. (one sketch on 15×22.5cm paper is seen above left). The area, a mecca for tourists and artistic inspiration was familiar to Tinning as he had studied thirty years earlier at the O’Hara School of Watercolour at Goose Rocks Beach two hundred miles south of Bar Harbour. Tinning completed a number of paintings (one watercolour on paper, 55×75 cm is shown above centre) of Ned Island and Frenchman’ Bay in his Montreal studio from his sketches. A comparative photo is shown on the right.