"...the dean of Canadian Wildlife painters, a Canadian treasure whose worth to us increases by the year...." Dr. I. S. MacLaren, Canadian Studies Program, Dept. of English, University of Alberta as part of the foreward to "Days of the Buffalo" book.
Assiniboine Park Pavilion Gallery
Updated March 9, 2008
Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature
Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
Assiniboine Park Pavilion Gallery
Refer to the next section below.
Clarence Tillenius - National Treasure
Download part of Clarence's CBC radio interview (MP3)
Download part of the QuickTime movie "Art Of Nature"
Available for purchase from www.karvonenfilms.com
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The Pavilion Gallery is located in Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The Clarence Tillenius Gallery and the John P. Crabb Gallery with the Walter Phillip's Collection are found on the second floor of the Pavilion. The third floor houses the Ivan Eyre Collection. It is opened all year and there is no charge to visit the collections.
The Pavilion also has a wonderul restaurant and gift shop on the first floor.
The Pavilion Gallery Clarence Tillenius Collection
This body of works is a heritage collection containing invaluable archival material. The works in the collection of the Pavilion Gallery Museum Inc. are comprehensive, significant, and representative of the many mediums and styles used by the artist: oil and watercolor paintings, black and white sketches including color notes to display the whole process, pen and ink drawings, charcoal sketches, pencil drawings and mixed media work. All, whenever possible, include the preliminary work and notes of the artist and actual issues of the publications which contain reproductions of the original art in the collection. They show the format and scope of Tillenius art and the mandate and the contribution of his art to the preservation of heritage and cultural scenes starting in the early thirties to the present date.
Tillenius's art reproduction started with the first painting, Ascent or Descent (painted in 1934) used for a The Country Guide cover in 1935. This first cover was painted by the artist using his right hand. After he lost his right arm in a construction accident in 1936, the relationship continued with Tillenius selling the idea for a cover painting to the Guide in 1937 - but due to losing his arm he was not yet sufficiently adept enough with painting skills to execute the painting himself, so they bought the idea and had Lynn Bogue Hunt in New York carry out the idea. It wasn't until 1940 that Tillenius had mastered his skill well enough to once again see his original oil painting, a boy sewing a goat harness, (painted with the left hand) on the cover of this magazine. These two oil paintings are included in this collection.
Noteworthy, that there were 300,000 subscribers in 19581 in order to understand the wide-spread impact that Tillenius art had through The Country Guide. 300,000 people seeing Tillenius art and reading his thoughts and feelings every month - an overwhelming thought. These subscribers felt he paid them a visit once a month; was one of them; was family . The covers by Tillenius were waited for with anticipation as many people collected them and sometimes hung them on the walls. At exhibitions people have brought scrapbooks that they have saved all these years which have as many of the covers as they could keep, as well as illustrations and news stories and interviews.
By using the artwork the way this magazine did - featuring it on the covers, using it for illustration in the body - they showed initiative and imagination in bringing something to their readership that was, in many cases, without radio, power, telephone or TV. It was a vital link to the outside world. The editor, Mr. Chipman, in the early years, set out to change the magazine into a highly illustrated one.2 This allowed the Tillenius talent to be used to its greatest effect. Born on a homestead in 1913 in the Interlake region, Tillenius not only depicted this way of living in his art, but it was also the life that he lived. During these first years Clarence Tillenius went from submitting paintings for the covers of The Country Guide to being the art editor when the then editor Col. Abel was relieved of the position so he could participate in the World War II. Tillenius held this position until the late forties, when Col. Abel returned. During this time Tillenius not only submitted work for the covers but also edited and wrote and illustrated columns and illustrated many articles and stories. After the return of Col. Abel, Tillenius kept on providing paintings and writing columns and illustrating stories.
Sketch Pad Out-of-Doors was a series of columns (well over 125) which Tillenius wrote and illustrated. These columns were made into a book which has been published three times (the first two editions sold out). Original drawings and illustrations from this series are reproduced in this book.
Through Field and Wood, the next series of articles and columns (47 in all) were written and illustrated by Clarence Tillenius for The Country Guide. Original artwork from these issues, which ranged from 1958 to 1962, may be found in the book Tillenius.
The book The First Fifty Years published by United Grain Growers in 1957 deals with the history of the U.G.G. and its publishing of The Country Guide. This book has throughout its content line-cut drawings by Clarence Tillenius. From these drawings Tillenius worked up watercolours to form a collection called The Homestead Days. The black and white line-cut and then the colour watercolour paintings depicting farm life in the early days, showing threshing, wood hauling, and farm life in general are seen here.
Over and above the cover artwork and the two columns Sketch Pad Out-of-Doors and Through Field and Wood - many stories and articles contained in the body of the magazine were illustrated by Tillenius. This relationship carried on into the mid-1960's when Tillenius accepted a contract to do several large dioramas at the National Museum in Ottawa and provincial museums which kept him so busy that he was not able to continue.
Other pieces in the collection were published in magazines across the continent such as:
- Nature Magazine (Washington, D.C.)
- The Montreal Standard
- Weekend Picture Magazine
- Virginia Wildlife
- Star Weekly
- Sports Afield (New York)
- Fur Trade Journal
- Saturday Night
- Rod and Gun
- Game and Fish Magazine
- Pelli and Pellicce
- Esperanto Magazine.
One magazine that Tillenius contributed to for over forty years was The Beaver.
Clarence Tillenius painting on the cover of
The Beaver, August/September 1992
© The Hudson's Bay Company
His book illustrations include:
- Little Giant by Olive Knox, published by Ryerson Press, Toronto
- North of "55" by C.P. Wilson
- Kirby's Gander by J.P. Gillese
- Furbearers of Canada published by Hudson's Bay Co.
- Brief History of the Hudson's Bay Co.
- What's Ahead for Prairie Agriculture by H.S. Fry
- The First Fifty Years by R.D. Colquette
- Sketch Pad Out-of-Doors by C.I. Tillenius
- Tomorrow is for You by Vera Kelsey, Scribner's New York
- Orphan of the North by Will Henry, Random House, New York
- Black Falcon by Olive Knox, Bouregy and Curl, New York
- Encyclopedia Canadiana (10 volumes) The Grolier Society, Ottawa
- Game Birds and Animals of Manitoba, Government of Manitoba
- Deer Hunting Hints by C.I. Tillenius, Canadian Industries Ltd.
In the early years of his career Tillenius and fellow artists such as Peter Kuch and Leo Mol got together once a week to do life drawings and portraits. Many of these early works are in the Pavilion permanent collection.
Other art, painted from journeys throughout the continent, is more recent and makes the span of the collection from - 1934 to 1998 - sixty-four years.
R.D. Colquette, The First Fifty Years, a history of the United Grain Growers page 293
R.D. Colquette, The First Fifty Years, a history of the United Grain Growers page 83
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