1970 Montreal, Quebec
This watercolour of 3564 University Street, Montreal – home of his niece Elizabeth – was Tinning’s wedding gift on her marriage in 1970. It shows two young lovers walking together in the background. Forty-five years later they are still walking together and recently appeared in “Love Letters” by A.R. Gurney to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Although the view has changed dramatically since 1977 when these Victorian buildings were demolished to make way for the Rutherford Physics Building at McGill University, the lane still exists for young and old lovers to stroll through the campus.
The Divinity Hall Chapel was in the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University. It is now known as the Birk’s Heritage Chapel. Tinning’s connection with McGill was longstanding. He painted many of the early 20th Century buildings on campus. This side view of the chapel was painted from a residence on University Street demolished in 1977 for the Rutherford Physics Building. This study is for a painting in the McGill Visual Arts Collection.
1970 The Laurentians, Quebec
“In his first exhibition in two years Montrealer Campbell Tinning continues rather an unusual parallel that started in his work about five years ago – that of painting both representational and abstract pictures with very similar results. [Montreal Star 1971-11-24]
True, the gap is not as wide as it could be, for Tinning’s landscapes (and some of his flowers) are often simplified transferrals of nature…”
“Tinning, 60, has an obvious preference for woods and forests to which he gives mysterious depths but a simple captivating beauty. The latter quality is also present in his best abstracts… in which the deeply resonant and geometric fields show his capacity to balance abstract composition.” Tinning experimented with abstracts.
1972 Eastern Townships Abstract
“Attempts to make something of a predominately green and uninteresting subject. At the time I was working (talking) with John Fox who was changing to abstractionism… July the least paintable month – green, green, green.” (Notes from Tinning’s sketchbook while painting in the Eastern Townships 1972-07.)
As an Anglophone and a representational painter Tinning had little in common with the Montreal avant-garde artists (mainly Francophone) that proliferated in the 1950s such as Les Automatistes or the art scene leading up to and around Expo 67.
With John Fox he found a kindred spirit and by 1972 both artists were experimenting with allusions to the natural world – developing unique methods in the use of line, colour and light to combine figurative and abstract forms.
1972 Christmas Cards
These personalized Christmas cards were a further development of Tinning’s use of abstraction. From a black ink template on white paper he individually painted each copy of the nativity scene with different watercolours. The cards are part of the Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery collection of 99 Christmas-related items dated 1942 to 1993.
1973 Montreal Quebec
1974 Montreal Quebec
Tinning submitted an abstract as his Diploma Work to the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts (RCA) : “The Apple Tree The Glenbrook Lake Memphramagog”. This photo (on the left) is from his personal photo album. Tinning entered hospital in March 1974 to have the varicose veins in his right leg “stripped”. Post-operatively, he sketched his leg in pencil and ink on paper. (MJM&AG).
1979 Montreal Quebec
By the late 1970s Tinning had earned a well established reputation in Montreal as a talented artist and commercially successful as a floral watercolourist. He also painted in other media. This sunflower painting is one of the comparatively few Tinning did in oil.
1981 McGill University, Montreal
In 1981 McGill University acquired the Montreal Standard-Thomson Newspaper art collection. This collection was assembled by John G McConnell, former Publisher of The Montreal Star, who had bought “reasonably priced works of many promising artists” (McGill News Summer 1981) – GC Tinning being one of these artists. Mrs. McConnell was also a patron and collected Tinnings for display in her home.
War and Peace
Early 1980s – Oshawa and the Eastern Townships
In 1979 Joan Murray, Director of the Robert McLaughlin Art Gallery in Oshawa, Ontario interviewed the 69 year old Tinning for an exhibition publication: “Canadian Artists of the Second World War.” Tinning said he felt the war was “just happening to you”. “He saw the horrors but they didn’t seem to affect him”. (Page 100.)
In the 1980’s Tinning painted domestic scenes and peaceful landscapes in the Eastern Townships southeast of Montreal. Every summer he took a cottage with his friend for a month’s holiday at the Glenbrook Farm on Sargent’s Bay on the western shores of Lake Memphramagog.
At various stages known as the Ball Farm, Glenbrook Hotel and Glenbrook Lodge at Knowlton’s Landing, Tinning vacationed here every summer in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Many of his landscapes originated from these summer sojourns at Sargent’s Bay on the western shore of Lake Memphremagog in the Eastern Townships – a few hours drive or train ride (Tinning didn’t drive) southeast of Montreal. Apart from landscapes he also painted simple domestic views like the one seen below looking out “Our Cabin” door.
He also was inspired to use scenes from The Glenbrook for his 1982 and 1985 Christmas Cards. These are shown below in three stages of development – from the original sketch or photo to an inked template copy to the individually and personally watercoloured finished product. [The Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery recently received a donation of Christmas Cards crafted by the artist between 1944 and 1993.]
The Glenbrook Lodge closed in September 1991. According to The Stanstead Journal: “The … reason for closing is the declining market for that segment of the vacationing English population in Quebec that goes for an old-fashioned, no-frills environment…” It was the end of a summer holiday style that Tinning had enjoyed for two decades in which he made life-long friends and from which he drew artistic inspiration.
1988 Ottawa, Ontario
On May 10th, 1988 The Sweetest Spring exhibition opened at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa “commemorating the role of the Canadian military in the liberation of the Netherlands in 1944-45.” The photo shows Tinning with his 1945 painting – Church Parade at Groningen, Holland – when the 78-year-old artist visited the exhibition. A 48-page trilingual (English/ French/ Dutch) book was published for the exhibition which was opened by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix during her first state visit to Canada.
1990 Delft, Holland
“Victory Parade” , an exhibition of Canadian War Artists in Holland 1944/45 held at the Legermuseum in Delft, Holland May 24th to December 2nd had seven colour reproductions of Tinning’s works from the Canadian War Museum collection in Ottawa.. Below are three pages scanned from the exhibition catalogue. The paintings are “Dutch Resistance Headquarters” – at left – a watercolour dated April 19, 1945 from Barneveld in central Holland. At centre is “The End of It All” (one of Tinning’s most reproduced wartime paintings) from Groningen, Northern Holland. At right are two watercolours showing German Prisoners of War returning to their homeland after the war ended.
1990 Montreal, Quebec
From a 1990 Tinning Christmas Card: “I have decided to blow my trumpet for a change. 1990 has been a most successful year for me. As well as still painting at 80 many paintings have sold through my dealers to collectors in Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, San Francisco and Hong Kong! (including several major acrylics 40” x 48”).
“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year … These cards are my niece Dibby’s fault. Quite right, but I really did them to get back at artists who over the years have told me how many exhibits they’ve had and how many sales!” [Bowes Collection]
1991 Montreal, Quebec
Dear Cam: … I enclose a polaroid of the w/c portrait for your records. I look at it every day as it hangs beside my bed, out of the sunlight. The delicate colour is there. When we lived on Queen Mary Road you came for a visit and this is the happy result… [On the reverse is inked: “watercolour of Irma Coucill done by me in 1940 when her husband Walter had hired me as artist for Display Department of Simpson’s in Montreal’]… Enclosed is my c.v. and card. Perhaps you may make sense out of this page of my life… I didn’t intend to go on for so long but, as usual, I get carried away thinking of my life… Fondest regards, Irma
[A letter dated November 8, 1991 from Irma Coucill, a portrait artist of 370 hockey players in the Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame [Obit. Dec 2015, Toronto Star]
1994 Montreal, Quebec
In June 1994 Tinning’s last solo exhibition in his lifetime was held in Montreal at the Dominion Gallery. This three week retrospective of his life’s work included twenty-one paintings from 1938 to1994. The gallery was located across Sherbrooke Street from “Le Linton” where Tinning lived for three decades. His apartment/condo served as his studio with windows facing west and Edifice Blanc… was painted from there. (Numbers correlate to Price List shown at bottom.)
Tinning painted in the Charlevoix region of the lower St. Lawrence in 1950 – an area favoured by many Quebec artists. This view is of Baie St Paul. Originally exhibited as part of a 1950 exhibition The Gazette review from October 14, 1950 states in part: “Campbell Tinning is showing the product of a sketching tour to Baie St Paul…paintings being characteristically broadly handled watercolours, confident in touch and crisp and clean in colour…“
Hudson is a town on the Lake of Two Mountains within commuting distance of Montreal. It is a fashionable spot for Montrealers to sail during the summer months. This 1947 watercolour captures the beauty of the lower Ottawa River valley. It is currently owned by a Canadian-born gentleman now residing in California who fondly remembers learning how to swim off this wharf at the Hudson Yacht Club in the early 1950s.
This seascape painted while he studied in Maine is one in which the artist experimented with abstract realism. From a review in the Montreal Gazette: “Watercolours free and “washy”, big in feeling and generally agreeable in tone from the brush of Campbell Tinning hold the walls of the Sidney Carter Gallery. It is an invigorating show and contains much of interest to the picture lover as well as to the student…”
Tinning was well-known for painting flowers and frequently described them in his writing as in this 1949 diary entry: “Flowers here: A tall almost weed – that grows in the churchyard – pale lavender hue and somewhat like a synzanthenus – very luxuriant. White double roses and deep pink briar ones. Red garden roses and English trumpet honeysuckle. Garden lupins. Yellow water lilies in the ponds.”
The Eastern Townships of Quebec was a favorite rural area within easy access of Montreal from which Tinning drew inspiration. Dixville is a small municipality near the American border with Vermont and south of Sherbooke and Coaticook, Quebec.
Below are three pages of the Dominion Gallery catalogue from Tinning’s 1994 solo exhibition.
From The Gazette, June 11, 1994: “… it is more than fitting that during this week of D-Day anniversary celebrations this mini-retrospective includes a couple of paintings from that period. But Tinning, as this exhibition shows, was also adept at doing landscapes, still-lifes and virtually any other subject matter that caught his fancy… Tinning is a competent, obviously talented artist who belongs to a generation often not given its due. Fortunately there are galleries with long memories such as the Dominion.”
2010 Military Book Cover Art
At right is the cover of a book published by The Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies, Wilfred Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario in 2010. The watercolour “A Gun That Caused Some Trouble.” is similar to Tinning’s oil on canvas “The Gothic Line – Tomba di Pesaro” which was printed opposite Page 150 in The Canadian Army 1939-1945: An Official Historical Summary (C.P. Stacey, King’s Printer, Ottawa, 1948). “The reproduction of your painting adds a great deal to the book” [Ref.: Letter Stacey to Tinning, 26 May, 1946.]
2013 Gradara, Italy
“WAR ART. Art of War on the Gothic Line between the valleys of the rivers Foglia and Conca” edited and written by Maurizio Castelvetro was produced as part of a series “Museums Collections” by the BCC di Gradara Bank in Italy. Two privately owned paintings (below) are among 20 Tinning works reproduced from the Library and Archives Canada and Canadian War Museum collections in Ottawa.
2014 Swindon, Wiltshire, United Kingdom
In 1951 Tinning was commissioned by the Ford Motor Company to illustrate an article by Aldous Huxley in the Mercury-Lincoln Times about Lydiard House. “..all is desolation…The ceilings with their delicate Italian plasterwork have begun to disintegrate. The paint is peeling, the wallpapers are blotched and leprous with damp…‘ In 1955 the Swindon Corporation opened Lydiard House as a public museum and these two watercolours were purchased in 2012 with assistance from The Art Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Trust. They were framed by The Friends of Lydiard Park and now hang in the entrance hall of the restored Lydiard House (2014).
2014 Sherbrooke, Quebec
Eight landscape watercolours were donated to the Musée des beaux-arts de Sherbrooke in 2014. Tinning frequently holidayed during the summer at a farm in the Eastern Townships southeast of Montreal and painted these between 1955 and 1982.
2015 Regina, Saskatchewan
The Dunlop Art Gallery in Regina received four Tinning watercolours by donation to add to their existing collection of two paintings acquired by purchase in 1948. Of particular interest is the Yellow House on McIntyre Street, 1930 the Regina home for Campbell Tinning and his family in the early 1930s. The house still stands. The other three paintings are from Montreal where he resided from 1938 until his death in 1996. Two are of Mount Royal in 1963: basically the same scene – one containing figures and the other without. The 1962 painting also done on Mount Royal was completed in the area of Beaver Lake a popular artificial pond in the summer and a skating rink in the winter.
2015 Urbino, Italy
Tinning’s 1944 watercolour of the “Port of Cattolica” is featured on the cover of a 2015 book published in Italy by Apollo Edition Urbino. Translated into English the title reads: “68 DUX A story of the capture, imprisonment and escape of three English generals as told by the protagonists.” Written by Paolo Emilio Comandini it recounts the story of Philip Neame, Richard O’Connor and Owen Tudor Boyd who were captured during World War Two and imprisoned in Italy. After Mussolini’s downfall in 1943 the generals escaped German-occupied Italy through the port of Cattolica. Tinning’s watercolour retains its bright colours although painted over seventy year ago. His jeep is seen on the pier.
The Burnaby Art Gallery New Acquisition’s Exhibition was held between February 5th and March 27th, 2016. The display of over fifty historical and contemporary works recently added to the City of Burnaby’s Permanent Art Collection included this landscape of the Okanagan Valley by Tinning. He painted it during the summer of 1962 while visiting his mother in Naramata, B.C.. The Gallery has 11 Tinning works.