Queen Elizabeth Gardens, Montreal, 1940 (circa)
Inscriptionsinscribed in black ink in an unknown hand, '"Princess Gardens, Montreal / 35 [obscured by backing]"' (verso, top horizontal stretcher).
ProvenanceContinental Galleries of Fine Art, Montreal, as "Princess Gardens, Montreal";
Private collection, Westmount, Quebec.
The Queen Elizabeth Gardens featured in this vibrant, yet muted, Pilot landscape are located at the intersection of Sherbrooke Street and Wood Avenue, in Westmount, Quebec. In the center of the compositions stands an imposing tree in a full, blush bloom (possibly an apple tree) under which a bench seats passersby enjoying a spot of shade. The park is alive with children playing and adults meandering through its paths or seated, enjoying a moment of respite. The bright greens of the grass and bushes depicted in the forefront give way to an abundance of trees in the distance bearing subdued, brindled leaves and sparser branches which complement the beige stone of the building in the background.
The view offered by Pilot faces East with the Sixth Congrégation de Notre-Dame Mother House in its backdrop. Built between 1904 and 1908, the fawn brick edifice was designed by local Beaux-arts architecture frontrunners Jean-Omer Marchand (1873-1936) and Samuel Stevens Haskell (1871-1913), and has housed Dawson College since 1985. The Byzantine-inspired dome is surmounted by a sculpture of Notre-Dame, and flanked by smaller cupolas; it is a distinguishing feature of this eclectic construction. Pilot deftly creates a tone-on-tone effect by developing the blue-green patina of the main dome against a dense, grey sky. Such a sky could easily convey an approaching storm - and although that may very well have been Pilot’s intent - gleams of warm light seem to appear at the very top of the painting. Upon closer look, they reveal themselves to be glimpses of unpainted canvas. The land was acquired by Westmount and was named Queen Elizabeth Gardens in 1940.