David Milne, Dreamland Tower, Coney Island, watercolour with body colour over black chalk on illustration board
New York City, USA, AD 1912
This is a night view of Beacon tower, which stood at the centre of Dreamland, one of the four amusement parks on Coney Island, New York. The tower is brilliantly illuminated with thousands of light bulbs, with a ferris wheel alongside. It is painted from memory, as Dreamland burnt down in 1911.
David Milne (1882-1953) was born in rural Ontario, Canada, the youngest of ten children. He moved to New York City in 1903, claiming that he knew 'no more about my destination than if I had been plunging into the sun'. Here Milne worked as a window dresser and poster-designer and attended classes at the Art Students' League. He was exposed to the work of Monet and Matisse and began to paint New York regularly, maintaining a sense of detachment from the city and recording his urban surroundings through intensive observation.
From 1909 Milne regularly showed his work with American watercolour societies, and won prizes at several. In 1913 he was chosen to participate in New York's legendary Armory Show alongside Van Gogh, Matisse, Gauguin, Picasso and Duchamp. Milne described watercolour as his favourite medium because 'it is so direct, so powerful, even brutal…it should be the painting medium because it is faster, and painting is the instantaneous art.'
Milne left New York City in 1916 in search of a more tranquil environment. He moved to the village of Boston Corners in rural New York State but returned permanently to Canada in 1929.
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: 490.000 mm
Width: 376.000 mm
Height: 490.000 mm
American Framed Basement XXc