Cornelius David Krieghoff
Canadian (born in Netherlands), 1815–1872
Bilking the Toll, 1860
oil on canvas
43.7 x 64 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of W.F. Alloway through The Winnipeg Foundation
Cornelius Krieghoff painted defining images of common people engaging in everyday activities. Between 1840 and 1860, the Dutch-born artist depicted the rural French-speaking population of Canada East (present-day Quebec). The jovial but impetuous habitants depicted in the WAG painting were often generalized by the artist. Krieghoff’s paintings often reflect the tastes and values of his most reliable patrons: British military recruits and Anglophone businessmen. At the same time, they often demonstrate the perceptive acuity of an allophone. Underlying its quaint humour, Bilking the Toll hints at a darker social tension between the English colonial government, which established a toll booth system, and the local French population on whom the tax was levied.