Son of a General, Philip J. Bainbrigge was born at Lichfield, Staffordshire, in 1817. He entered the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich in 1830 and graduated in 1833. Requesting a posting abroad, Bainbrigge arrived in Canada on board the Arab transport on June 25, 1836, in time to take part in the military operations along the Richelieu River and at St. Eustache during the Rebellions of 1837-8. Bainbrigge travelled widely in Upper and Lower Canada and the Maritimes, reporting on fortifications and other defensive measures. He was assigned on special survey duty concerning the Maine - New Brunswick boundary dispute and was acting adjutant from 1841 until his return to England August 4, 1842. He died in Blackhealth in England in 1881.
SUBJECT / THEMES
A thematic analysis of Bainbrigge's work reveals a definite predilection for depicting landscapes - either in summer or winter - into which he would work whatever section of the city he could see from his vantage point. His palette thus consisted of a range of natural colours, such as browns, reds and dark greens, which he applied in varying degrees of thickness. This interest in nature and rural landscape prompted the artist to use a high horizon line, which allowed him to include the city's more prominent or recognizable buildings. Bainbrigge made skilled use of dramatic chiaroscuro effects, and these important buildings often stand out in the distance, shimmering in a stark light. The foreground is composed so as to encourage the viewer to enter the scene and share the artist's experience of the landscape.
Like many British officer- painters, Philip J. Bainbrigge received his artistic training at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. There, he was instructed in the proper use of perspective and in the handling of light and shade, and he employed these techniques with an ease and spontaneity well-suited to the principles of landscape painting. His rather individual style, while in accordance with the artistic trends of the time, resulted in watercolours that are quite distinctive.
Source: Conrad Graham, Mont-Royal - Ville Marie : Early Plans and Views of Montreal, p.103.