Joyner’s Canadian Art Auction

May 27, 2011

LOT 55

Lot 55


Lot 55 Details


oil on card, laid down on board
22 ins x 16 ins; 55 cms x 115 cms

Estimate $30,000-$40,000

Realised: $42,480
Price Includes Buyer's Premium ?

Lot Report


Private Collection, Massachusetts.


William Colgate, Canadian Art, Its Origin and Development, Toronto, 1967, pages 13-17, for an extensive account of Berthon’s work.
Joyner Canadian Fine Art, auction, Toronto, June 1st 2010, lot 149, for a portrait of Colonel Jeremiah Wilkes Dewson, father-in-law of Colonel George Taylor Denison II who commissioned the portrait of Col. Dewson.


Painted circa 1853-56.

Col. Denison (1816-1873) was born in Toronto and educated at Upper Canada College, studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1840. Denison was a prominent lawyer, soldier and entrepreneur. Married to Mary Anne Dewson in 1839, the Denisons built Rusholme on property given by Col. Denison’s father, the fields and orchards of which became a model of productive, scientific farming. The Denisons lived the life of country squires and Rusholme became a centre of social life with balls and soirees and was visited by a number of royal and military personalities.

It was as a soldier, however, that Denison spent a large part of his life. This portrait depicts Denison in the uniform of his regiment, the York Light Dragoons (now known as the Governor General’s Bodyguard) which he was appointed to command in 1846. Previously, he had commanded the Queen’s Light Dragoons during the rebellion of 1837. In 1848, Denison was promoted to captain and in 1850 to Brevet-Major. By 1853, now a Lieutenant Colonel, Denison was Commanding Officer of the York Dragoons. In 1856, he formed the first Artillery Battery for Toronto and was temporarily the CO for the Queen’s Own Rifles in 1860. The same year he was appointed Colonel Commandant of Toronto Militia (District 10) and, finally, in 1866 commanded the Toronto Garrison during the Fenian Raids.

In this portrait the gilt rank device of a crown is visible on the epaulettes of Denison’s York Light Dragoons uniform signifying the rank of Lieut. Col. which he reached in 1853. He would have worn a different uniform after 1856 when he was associated with the Artillery Battery, thus allowing the painting to be dated circa 1853-56. A larger version of Berthon’s portrait of Denison is in the possession of the Governor General’s Bodyguard. Colgate notes that Berthon “...was entrusted with commissions by several notable military officers living in Toronto, among them...Lieutenant-Colonels R.I. Denison and George T. Denison.”


For condition information please contact the specialist.

LOT 55

About Condition Ratings

  • 5 Stars: Excellent - No discernable damage, flaws or imperfections
  • 4 Stars: Very Good - Minor flaws or imperfections visible only under close inspection using specialised instruments or black light
  • 3 Stars: Good - Minor flaws visible upon inspection under standard lighting
  • 2 Stars: Fair - Exhibits flaws or damage that may draw the eye under standard lighting
  • 1 Star: Poor - Flaws or damage immediately apparent under standard lighting (examples: missing components, rips, broken glass, damaged surfaces, etc.)

Note: Condition ratings and condition details are the subjective opinions of our specialists and should be used as a guide only. Waddington’s uses due care when preparing condition details, however, our staff are not professional restorers or conservators. Condition details and reports are not warranties and each lot is sold “as is” in accordance with the buyer’s terms and conditions of sale. In all cases the prospective purchaser is responsible for inspecting the property themselves prior to placing a bid.