Going to the Fire

“Going to the Fire” is one of the earliest Fox works.  The oil on canvas was done in 1885 by Fox and J.A. Fraser, Jr. and depicts two horses pulling a steam fire engine.   Fraser was a member of the Ontario Society of Artists as well as a member of the council for the Ontario School of Art in 1885 (among other years).  He was also listed as taking part in the teaching of classes.  Fraser is also listed along with Fox on several oil portraits (again, very early works).  We know that Fox was a student at the Ontario School of Art in 1885 because of the exhibition records.  However, the Ontario School of Art has no records of Fox (I visited the school in February of 2014 and also worked with their archivist).

The oil painting ended up in the “Historical Collection of the Insurance Company of North America (ICNA)” which was founded in 1925.  Their extensive collection of fire related art works and medallions began to be auctioned off or donated in 2004.  By this time the company was now Cigna and the painting was most likely in the renamed “The Cigna Museum and Art Collection”.   The number for the museum no longer works and the last known curator for the collection has not responded to inquiries (using an address at what appears to be her current position in Bangor, ME).  Where “Going to the Fire” resides at this time is not known.  Other items from the collection can now be found in various museums.

We do know from “Firefighters in art and media” by John Walker that the original oil on canvas measured 64 X 46 inches.

Prints of “Going to the Fire” have been listed as scarce.  In researching, I have found several sources for the print and details to assist with determining where a print came from.

GoingToTheFire-Fig1The first is found in the 1945 publication “The Historical Collection of the Insurance Company of North America” by M.J. McCosker. The print on page 46 measures 7.5 X 5 inches and is in black & white. The back side of this page shows “1D-37D listings”. The image is full-width (you can see the entire back wheel on the right).


GoingToTheFire-Fig2The next image is from the December 1955 American Heritage publication (Volume 7, No. 1). This print measures just under 11 X 7 inches and is in color.  The back side of this page is about Major Ferguson and is page 65.  This image is not quite full-width (the back right wheel is not complete).   This publication is often found on ebay for under $5.


R. Atkinson Fox Volume 2 by Mortenson lists this print with the size of 13.5 X 9.5 and being from a March 1946 magazine. I have confirmed with owners of this print that it is in color and full-width.   This appears to be the scarce version of “Going to the Fire”.

The Gibson reference also lists the 13.5 X 9.5, but also a 9 X 6.5.





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