This blog post is from Joan Murray, Director Emeritus.
Frederick Sproston Challener’s inspired mural paintings in Parkwood Estate, commissioned in 1924, are particularly well done. Located in the billiards room and hallway, the murals have a strangely perfect, yet ineffably wry quality which combines romanticism and history. His narrative includes the five daughters of Colonel Sam McLaughlin, including the patron of the Gallery, Miss Isabel McLaughlin, outdoor sports events engaged in by Mr. McLaughlin and his family, and a vision of arcadia with wholesome-looking young children, McLaughlin’s grandchildren. The entire effect is joyous, with just the right mixture of Twentieth-century details to balance the artifice before us with its woodland setting of birch trees and panel of Pan playing his pipe.
Challener was an artist who returned from a trip to Europe in 1898-99 with a passionate desire—to make murals. Fortunately for him, his wish fell in with a period of expansion in the theatre and architectural scene in Canada and he soon found himself hard at work executing murals in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, London, and Winnipeg. At the same time as his architectural commissions, he painted many easel paintings.
In celebration of McLaughlin Day, we honour here not only Colonel Sam McLaughlin and his wife Adelaide, but Miss Isabel McLaughlin, who was always deeply interested in mural painting, as well as the McLaughlin family, our friends.
Visit Parkwood Estate on McLaughlin Day on the August long weekend, for their wonderful Basement Tours. The tours are held August 3, 4, & 5, do not require pre-booking and will be available from 10:30 to 5:00pm. Admission is $10.00 per person, regardless of age. ($11.30 with the HST)