National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts

Bulletin 6 (III:2), 1965

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Orpen Portraits in the Canadian
War Memorials Collection

Robert F. Wodehouse, Curator of War Art

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The portrait of Captain Hoidge is also of some interest. For many years it was listed in the National Gallery records as A Canadian Airman. However, a few years ago Air Marshal Curtis identified this picture as that of Captain Hoidge with whom he had flown in France. (6) Hoidge was one of the outstanding pilots in 1917 in the Royal Flying Corps and Orpen relates in his book how Hoidge and Rhys Davids, another outstanding pilot, were selected by General Trenchard, head of the Royal Flying Corps, to be painted. The portrait illustrated on page 52 of An On!ooker in France was painted at this time and shows Hoidge as a lieutenant and MC. He was a personal friend of Orpen.

The painting in the National Gallery shows Hoidge as a Captain and with the Bar to his MC. He had been in an aircraft accident in England in December 1917. In the painting he is wearing a head bandage as a result of the accident. The date of this painting can be tentatively set therefore as early or mid-1918, before Hoidge returned to flying duties in France in September.

The seven army portraits were exhibited as a group for the first time in many years during the summer of 1964. They formed part of a special showing of paintings assembled to commemorate 50 years since the onset of the First Great War. The portrait of Captain Hoidge is normally hung in the War Collections as part of the permanent display.

Sir Arthur William Currie (1875-1953) was born in the village of Napperton, Middlesex County, Ontario, 5 December 1875, the son of William Garner Currie and Jane Patterson. He was educated at the Strathroy Collegiate Institute. In 1893 he went to British Columbia, and became a school teacher. Eventually he went into business in Victoria, British Columbia; and there became the senior partner in one of the leading real estate firms on Vancouver Island. When the Great War broke out in 1914, he was a lieutenant - colonel in the militia, having risen from the ranks to command the 5th Canadian Garrison Artillery and then the 50th Gordon Highlanders of Victoria. In September 1914 he was given command of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade, being promoted full colonel in February 1915 and brigadier-general 4 March 1915. In 1916 he was placed in command of the 1st Canadian Division, with the rank of major-general; and in 1917 he succeeded Sir Julian Byng as commander of the Canadian Corps, with the rank of lieutenant-general. This last position he retained, with great credit to himself and to the Corps, throughout the remainder of the war. After the Armistice, he commanded the Canadian forces on the Rhine; and on his return to Canada in 1919 he was appointed inspector-general of the Canadian Militia. In 1920 he was offered and accepted the position of principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University, Montreal; he retained this post until his death in Montreal on 30 November 1933. He was created a CB in 1915, a KCMG in 1917, a KCB in 1918and a GCMG in 1919; and the honorary degree of LLD was conferred on him by many universities. At the time of his death he was grand president of the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League.

Sir Archibald Cameron Macdonell (1864-1941) was born at Windsor, Canada West, 6 October 1864, the son of Samuel Smith Macdonell. He graduated from the Royal Military College, Kingston, in 1886; after serving for two or three years in the Canadian permanent militia, he transferred to the Royal North West Mounted Police. He served in the South African War with the Canadian Mounted Rifles, and rose to the rank of Lieutenant-colonel. He became a superintendent of the Royal North West Mounted Police in 1903; he was given command of Lord Strathcona's Horse when the World War of 1914-18 broke out, In 1915 he was given command of the 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade, with the rank of brigadier-general; in 1917 he was appointed to command the 1st Canadian Division, with the rank of major-general; from 1919 to 1925 he was commandant of the Royal Military College, Kingston. He was awarded the DSO in 1901, the CMG in 1916, the CB in 1917, and the KCB in 1919; on retirement he was promoted lieutenant-general. He died at Kingston, Ontario, on 23 December 1941.

Sir Henry Edward Burstall (1870-1944) was born at Quebec, 26 August 1870, the son of John B. Burstall and Fanny Bell Forsyth. He was educated at Bishop's College, Lennoxville, and the Royal Military College, Kingston. He was commissioned in the Royal Canadian Artillery in 1889; served with the force in the Klondyke from May 1898 to June 1899; and served in South Africa with 1st Canadian Contingent. He served with the South African Constabulary in the Transvaal from April 1901 to June 1902. He was mentioned in despatches. Appointed lieutenant-colonel 1908 and appointed to command Royal Canadian Horse Artillery 1911. Served in World War 1914-18 as brevet colonel and Brigadier-General Commanding Artillery, 1st Canadian Division, 1914-15. As a major-general he was General Officer Commanding Royal Artillery 1915-16, and was General Officer Commanding 2nd Canadian Division 1916-18. He was created CB in 1915; CMG in 1917; KCB in 1918;and KCMG in 1919; he also received some foreign decorations. He was many times mentioned in despatches. Quartermaster-General at Department of National Defence 1919-20 and Inspector-General until his release in 1925. He settled in England and died in 1944 at Headbourne Worthy, Hampshire, England.

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