Victoria Hospital 1969–70
Jack Chambers, Victoria Hospital, 1969–70
Oil on wood, 121.9 x 243.8 cm
Chambers’s courageous nine-year battle with leukemia and his premature death tend to dominate the understanding of his work. It is thus salutary to recall that this painting of Victoria Hospital, where he was born and died, was begun before his diagnosis. The painting is horizontal and includes a broad, detailed landscape of the city as well as the hospital. Looked at in terms of his responses to nature—especially his late paintings of Lake Huron and of Gibbons Park in London—the hospital does not dominate the work in any morbid sense. The winter scene is subdued, calm. It is a scene of his London, its places—the view was taken from the roof of the studio of fellow artist artist Greg Curnoe (1936–1992)—its light, its familiarity. Yet the work also reminds us of Chambers’s practicality. With it he achieved his financial goals: the painting sold in 1970 for a record-setting price, $35,000.