HE British army officers of the 18th century performed with pen as well as sword. Cadets were instructed in sketching, not to encourage fine art but so they could draw readable pictures of forts, gun redoubts, and details of military operations. One of the few who far surpassed these minimum military requirements was Thomas Davies, a British artillery officer whose American and Canadian watercolors were brought to light in Britain only two years ago On display this week at Canada's National Gallery in Ottawa, they have already established Davies as "the father of Canadian landscape painting."

As an officer, Davies had a...

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