Saturday, November 8, 2008

Heritage: Tennison on Krieghoff

A sign from a Krieghoff exhibition to which Bill Tennison had contributed

TORONTO, ONTARIO - While born in Amsterdam, painter Cornelius David Krieghoff spent most of his 19th-century life in Canada and thus is regarded as a premier Canadian artist, and he is particularly beloved here for his focus on Canadian winter landscapes. Among those especially appreciative of his work is Swansea Historical Society member Bill Tennison, who spoke about Krieghoff and shared some of his extensive collection during the society's meeting at Swansea Town Hall on 5-November-2008.

Tennison has collected Krieghoff works for much of his life, and his common interest in Krieghoff fostered a friendship with the late newspaper mogul Ken Thompson. Between the two of them, Tennison and Thompson provided the resources to complete special exhibitions on the artist in Canada and to help historians determine the status of many purported Krieghoff works--including one that proved to be completed on one half by Krieghoff and one half by another artist.

Bill Tennison held a print of Krieghoff's "Bilking the Toll"

Of the 1100 to 1300 Krieghoff paintings ("we're still finding them," Tennison notes), probably the most famous are the 33 (known, anyway) variations of "Bilking the Toll" in which a horse-drawn sleigh runs through a toll booth in the snow. Tennison noted that 30 of them have the sleigh going from right to left, while only 3 have them going from left to right.

Like many artists, Krieghoff was not fully appreciated during his lifetime, and while he did not die starving poor, neither did he die as wealthy as the sums that his works command today would imply.

Bill Tennison answering an audience question

The holiday season is when Krieghoff is most noted today. His many works on early Canadian scenes tended to depict the winter, and hence make excellent Christmas cards and other winter holiday fare. The overview of Cornelius Krieghoff's career from Bill Tennison served as an appropriate signal that the holiday season--and winter--is just around the corner.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This man, Bill Tennison was my Dad. He passed away November 25, 2012. He has been deeply missed by his family, friends and Scouts who called him Scouter Bill. I have never seen this article written about him and I would welcome the author to contact me through this blog. I will respond. I remember the late Mr. Ken Thompson and visiting his private Kreighoff collection at his office. My Dad and he shared a great friendship and appreciation if Kreighoff.
My Dad's love of Kreighoff started when he took me to the library to help me with my research on my Grade 8 art project. I had chosen Kreighoff, and as they say, "The rest is history".
On behalf of my family, I want to thank whoever wrote this article for creating such an accurate depiction of his passion for Kreighoff. It is especially touching so soon after the 2nd anniversary of his death.
Merry Christmas and Seasons Greeting to all. May the New Year find you following your passions. It is fuel for the soul. This is a testimony to everything he did and how he lived his life.