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The Cone of Montmorency of 1827
Quebec: 1827. Watercolour over pencil heightened with scratching out, on early card mount. Inscribed in ink on mount with title and signed "James Cockburn / Lt. Col. Rl. Arty." 19th century water gilt frame. 14 3/4 x 21 3/4 inches. A fine watercolour of a the frozen falls of the St. Lawrence River by British army officer James Cockburn, a talented artist of Canadian scenery in this early period. British army officer Major-General James Pattison Cockburn (1779-1847) served in Canada from 1822 to 1823, and again from 1826 to 1832. Most of his fine watercolours were made during his second posting, having made several inspection tours in his capacity as commanding officer of the Royal Artillery in Canada, including visits to the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. "Cockburn was a prolific amateur water-colourist, often working with the intent to publish [including several separately issued prints by Ackermann and Co., as well as illustrations in several works] ... His artistic endeavours did not go unnoticed by those of his social circle. Lord and Lady Dalhousie were respected patrons of the arts in the colony during his term as Governor-in- Chief of Canada, 1819-28; they acquired at least two albums of Cockburn views. Lady Aylmer, wife of Lord Dalhousie's successor in office, describes Colonel Cockburn as '...one of the most accurate and elegant artists I have ever met" (Cooke). Cockburn would exhibit at the National Academy of Design in 1836. A contemporary of Cockburn described the winter scene on the St. Lawrence depicted here as follows: 'When the river St. Lawrence is frozen below the falls, the level ice becomes a support, on which the freezing spray descends as sleet; it there remains, and gradually enlarges its base and its height, assuming an irregularly conical form, its dimensions thus continually enlarging become, towards the close of the winter, stupendous." The cone became a winter destination for visitors from the city of Quebec, and as the present image shows part of the attraction was that it was possible to climb and slide down the slopes of the cone. See Allodi 401-403 for similar images of this natural wonder. Four Cockburn albums containing over 350 watercolours were dispersed following the April 27, 1926 Murray Sale at Sotheby and Co., and is the source of most extant examples of his work. His watercolours appear in the permanent collections of the Public Archives Canada, the National Gallery Canada, Royal Ontario Museum, Archives Nationales du Quebec, the McCord Museum, British Museum and National Army Museum, among others. Cameron & J. Trudel The Drawings of James Cockburn A visit through Quebec's Past p.163; Cooke, W. H. Coverdale Collection of Canadiana, pp. 43-59; Allodi, Canadian Watercolours and Drawings in the Royal Ontario Museum 270-463.
      [Bookseller: Donald Heald Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2013-07-20           Check availability:      Biblio    

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