David Milne, Boston Corners I, watercolour over chalk sketch

Boston Corners, New York State, USA
7 June AD 1916

This scene, painted in the village of Boston Corners, New York State, shows a boarding house beside the station there. The tubular structure is a simple water tank on stilts, while the top of a wooden telegraph pole with grey insulators is seen at the lower left. Three railway wagons are pictured in the background.

The artist David Milne (1882-1953) was born in rural Ontario, Canada. He lived in New York City between 1903 and 1916, after which he moved to Boston Corners in search of tranquility in which to focus on his painting. The village consisted of a handful of houses, a school and a shop as well as the boarding house. It was connected by rail to New York City, but offered an opportunity to be self-sufficient and closer to nature. Milne described it as 'a good place for a painter to live, demands…were fewer than in any other place I knew.'

Milne's paintings at Boston Corners continued to show the modernist conviction that a painting must convey what he called 'aesthetic emotion' primarily through colour and form, with subject matter being a secondary concern. Here Milne paints with the limited palette and attention to surface pattern developed in New York in 1915.

Milne's time in Boston Corners was broken when he enlisted to fight in the First World War in 1917. He was away between 1918 and 1919 serving in Canada, Britain and France, but did not see action. He continued to paint during this time through participation in the Canadian War Records scheme, completing 111 works recording soldiers' daily lives as well as topographical views. To convey the harshness of war he began to paint with a dry brush.

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David Milne, Boston Corners I, watercolour over chalk sketch

© 2005 David Milne Estate

  • Milne at Boston Corners, 1916

    Milne at Boston Corners, 1916


More information


D. Milne Jnr and D. Silcox, David B. Milne: catalogue rais (Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1998)

J. O'Brian, David Milne and the modern tra (Toronto, The Coach House Press, 1983)

D. Silcox, Painting place. The life and w (Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1996)

R. L. Tovell, Reflections in a quiet pool. T (National Gallery of Canada, 1980)


Height: 450.000 mm
Width: 570.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1997-7-12-121


American Atlas XXc


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