Mr. Joe Cox's House (next door west), Thornhill, 1926
Inscriptionssigned and dated, 'J.M '26' (lower right); inscribed and titled by Thoreau MacDonald, 'Thornhill / about ‘26 / N.F.S. / property TM' and 'J.E.H. MACDONALD / Mr. Joe Cox’s house (next door west) / certified by Thoreau MacDonald' (verso).
Thoreau MacDonald (son of the artist);
The Art Emporium, Vancouver, January 1998;
Acquired from the above by the present owner, January 1998.
In 1914, the MacDonald family moved to a farmhouse in Thornhill at 121 Center Street, which had a generous garden on the west side of the house. MacDonald often liked to paint the various features of the garden, such as the area which he planted with flowers (he was an avid gardener), or the old apple tree, as well as the house beyond – which, as we learn here, belonged to Mr. Joe Cox. He also painted his family seated in the garden, and guests. The most famous result is MacDonald's The Tangled Garden, developed from many drawings and oil sketches, which “burst on gentle Gallery-goers like a bomb” as MacDonald’s son Thoreau said. But there were other sketches he did of the garden in summer or winter. He might glory in the tree shown, painting its branches heavy with fruit or their bare shapes silhouetted against a snowy view of the distant house. Here, he has fastened on the rich gold of the foliage of the tree in the fall, painting it broadly and summarily.
The sketch reveals his warm affection for the view which was due to him in part since he encouraged the growth there. Although the garden is over (it is indicated by a slim dusty rose-colored area lying in the distance), he would have looked forward to the spring when he would fill it with plants again.
Thoreau MacDonald always kept this sketch for himself. He continued to live in the MacDonald Thornhill house until his death. It is kept in shape and administered by the Town of Vaughan to be used for special occasions.