Nancy Townshend's book on art inspired by the Canadian Rockies, Purcell Mountains, and Selkirk Mountains presents these mountains' justifiable prominence in world art. For over two centuries, Canadian artists have admired their magnitude and grandeur, their endlessly changing light and atmospheric conditions, their four distinct seasons, and myriad other aspects.
The book is organized chronologically into three eras: traditional (1809 –1899), Modern (1900–1973) and contemporary (1974–2012). From David Thompson's watercolours in the early nineteenth century (c. 1809) of the East Kootenays to Jan Kabatoff's multimedia art of the early twenty-first century that addresses the impact of global warming on glaciers, Townshend's book presents a whole gamut of Canadian art inspired by these great mountains. Featuring three comprehensive overviews and thirteen chapters on both central and western Canadian artists, as well as a chapter on American artist John Singer Sargent, the book offers insights into their art and inspirations.
What did two centuries of artistic exploration in the infinitely facetted Canadian Rockies, Purcells and Selkirks yield? How did the resulting works of art serve to build a unique western Canadian identity? How does the West inform Canadians about themselves, about their own place in the world at this critical time in world history?
Townshend answers these questions in this significant reference book for decades to come. Over the past two hundred years, a shift from the exploitative view of Canada's mountain West during the traditional era to the contemporary creative genesis of this area has occurred. Because of the contemporary artists' commitment to wildlife conservation and environmental issues, the contemporary era is more outward looking and expansive, concerned about the world's future.
Townshend's all-encompassing text and selected stunning images confirm John Ruskin's observation that mountains are "the beginning and end of all natural scenery." That Canada's mountain West is indeed a place to be revered, a place from which we can learn about ourselves now and in the future. (from author's website)
Introduction to the Traditional Era (1809-1899):
Chapter One - Lucius O'Brien (1832-1899)
Chapter Two - William McFarlane Notman (1857-1913)