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Thomas Faed

Sunday in the Backwoods of Canada


Thomas Faed
Burley Hill, Scotland, 1826 – London 1900


Sunday in the Backwoods of Canada




Oil on canvas


106.7 x 144.8 cm


Gift of Lord Mount Stephen, inv. 1896.52


Western Art

The emigration from Scotland that took place on an unprecedented scale in the nineteenth century provided artists with plentiful subject matter for illustrating the dramatic themes of uprootedness and noble suffering. This painting is the second in a trilogy by the popular Scottish Victorian artist Faed depicting the plight of Scottish immigrants in Canada. Although Faed himself never travelled to this country, in the mid-nineteenth century his cousins the M’Geochs left their farm in Kirkcudbrightshire, to settle in Canada. The painting’s lack of references to a specifically Canadian landscape is offset by allusions to Scotland, such as the pot of heather in the window and the portrait of the poet Robert Burns on the door. The narrative aspect of this gathering for the purpose of Sunday worship is elucidated by a passage in a letter : "We have no church here but our loghouse [...] so we e'en take turns about on Sunday in reading the Bible. We are all well except Jeannie, and as happy as can be, considering the country ties we have left. Poor Jeannie is sadly changed; her only song is, “Why left I my hame” etc. But for her illness, our lot ought not to be an unhappy one."

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