Franklin Brownell R.C.A.
Byward Market, Ottawa, 1915
Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, Montreal;
Arthur Leggett Fine Art and Antiques, Toronto;
Private collection, Toronto
Franklin Brownell (1857-1946), Retrospective Exhibition, Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, Montreal,
Sept. 29 – Oct. 13, 2007, cat. no. 12
Franklin Brownell moved from Montreal to Ottawa in 1887. By this time in his life, he had trained in Boston, and under the significant tutelage of the French painter Adolphe Bouguereau at the Académie Julian in Paris. He eventually became headmaster at the Ottawa Art School, and would teach there until 1900, when he moved on to head the Women’s Art Association of Ottawa, later the Art Association of Ottawa. A member of the RCA, he was also a founding member of the Canadian Art Club. While listing his associations and awards might seem pedantic, it is critical to note how accomplished and connected Brownell was doing the course of his career. He worked with Maurice Cullen and Suzor-Coté, contemporaries in whose work we can see parallels.
Brownell was very content painting in Ottawa and found the vibrancy of the city, with its busy markets, bustling life, and monumental architecture, very appealing. Upon becoming Canada’s legislative capital in 1866, Ottawa was at the center of what was then Canada. Previously called Bytown, the region, including the historic Byward Market, was incorporated into the City of Ottawa in 1847. Between the attractive hustle and bustle of the market and the nearby Gatineau River region, Brownell had ample subject matter readily at hand. This delicate scene depicts that hustle and bustle at the market on a cold winter’s day. All is bathed in icy sunlight, everyone is wrapped against the cold, even the horses are blanketed as they penitently wait for their sleighs to be loaded.