Valley Lives - Robert Hyndman

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the December 22, 2009 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Ladies fluttered their lashes for handsome war artist

by Trevor Greenway

One of his favourite paintings is of a Dutch woman at her farmhouse in Holland with her dark brown hair and her deep brown piercing eyes. "She was just so strikingly beautiful." said distinguished war artist Robert Hyndman in a Nov. 2 interview with the Low Down.

Hyndman, along with several friends were touring Europe in 1939 before World War II broke out, when they ended up at a farmhouse late one night in Holland. This is when Hyndman saw his brown-eyed girl and just had to paint her. The girl didn't speak a work of English and Hyndman didn't speak a word of Dutch, but the two communicated through art.

The painting still sits in his former Chelsea home. Hyndman died of pneumonia Nov. 29 with his sketchpad and his two daughters at his side. He was 94. "He painted all the way up to the last weekend of his life," said Hyndman's daughter, Brydie Hyndman.

Valley Lives
Photo courtesy Brydie Hyndman.

Brydie added that although it was tough watching her father die, she and her sister Margot Mann had "the most incredible" final hours with their father at the Hull hospital. Hyndman was in what doctors call an "unresponsive state." The two spent hours at his bedside telling him stories. Then, something amazing happened, said Brydie.

"His eyes started to flicker and then he just woke up," she said. He was quite delirious, she said and all he wanted to do was paint. So the two began to hand him imaginary paint brushes and paints so that he could paint one last 'imaginary' portrait. "He looked at me, looked at Margo and said 'who am I going to paint? You're both so beautiful,'" she said, holding back tears.

Hyndman's career as a painter was long and successful. He was a fighter pilot in World War II, before be was appointed an Official War Artist in 1944, saving him from ever having to fire another gun. Hyndman then spent a year and a half painting portraits of distinguished officers, 68 of them to be exact, most of which sit in a vault in the Canadian War Museum. with two of them on permanent display in the building's main lobby.

After the war, Hyndman continued to paint as a career. He was commissioned to do a portrait of Queen Elizabeth for Chatelaine Magazine in 1959 and a portrait of Sir Wilfred Laurier for the Liberal Party, who later gave the painting to the former Prime Minister of Canada as a birthday gift.

Hyndman also taught art at the Ottawa School of Art from 1971-2007 and at the Banff School of Art from 1964-1972. His last art show was at Galerie Mauve in Chelsea from Nov. 5-Nov. 22.

Hyndman was also quite a handsome man and has been said to be quite a "ladies man," by many who knew him. Brydie said that even in his later years, women would stop by the house and be drawn to him instantly. "Even in his 90s, women would come over and their eye lashes would flutter," said Brydie. "He had some sort of magic that women were attracted to." Hyndman was married twice, both of which never fully worked out.

Robert Hyndman is survived by his two daughters, his two grandchildren and his three great grandchildren.

A funeral service for Robert Hyndman will take place Jan. 15 at the Church of the St. Bartholomew in Ottawa with a reception to follow. Donations may be made to the Robert Hyndman Drawing & Painting Scholarship at the Ottawa School of Art or to the Wakefield Memorial Hospital.

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