Posted 5 years ago
"The Beaver Hall Group", although initially considered to be a Montreal counterpart to Toronto’s Group of Seven, stood apart through their work: rather than offering an image of Canadian identity through depictions of the untamed landscapes of a northern country, the Montreal artists imbued the inhabited landscapes of a northern culture with the colours of modernity.
They also painted many portraits that convey this same quest for modernism; these works rank among the most remarkable in the history of Canadian art. The male-female parity within the group — a first in Quebec as in Canada — is another resolutely modern trait.
The exhibition, (1920's Modernism in Montreal), shows how the question of gender goes hand in hand with the idea that the group’s diversity fuelled rich and fruitful exchanges. Although short-lived, the Beaver Hall Group provided rich soil for abundant and substantial art-making, now inextricably linked with the history of art in Montreal, Quebec and Canada."
Many moons ago when my sister and brother-in-law were living in Montreal, I went to stay with them for a few days. (I lived close to Toronto.) While I was there she wanted to take me to an art exhibition that was showing at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. I don't remember the name of the exhibition, but I purchased my favourite of the advertising posters. It had the name, location and dates of the exhibition, plus details about the artist that painted the original picture.
It sat for many months in the cardboard tube I'd brought it home in. It got carted around from house move to house move. When I finally decided to have it framed, in my infinite wisdom, I asked them to cut off all the information from the bottom, so all that was left was the painting.
Fast forward over 35 years and I'm living in downtown Hamilton, Ontario, a few blocks from the Art Gallery of Hamilton. By chance in late Spring this year I checked online to see what was on at Hamilton's Gallery. On the first page of their site I found myself looking at the very same painting/poster I'd bought in Montreal. They were advertising an exhibition of paintings by the Montreal group I mentioned at the beginning of this long saga! I don't think the exhibition that I visited in Montreal was the same as the one here, that's why I was falling off my chair surprised that they had picked that piece of art to advertise it. (Does that make sense?) My daughter came with me to the gallery - it was amazing to see that painting again after so many years. It brought back many, many memories that were shared with my daughter.
Credit 1st Photo: Randolph S. Hewton, 'Miss Mary Macintosh', 1924 or earlier, oil on canvas. Photo David Barbour.
Credit 2nd Photo: Prudence Heward’s 'At the Theatre' / Horsley and Annie Townsend. Robert Everett-Green, Montreal — The Globe and Mail, Oct. 27, 2015.
Credit 3rd Photo: Prudence Heward (1896-1947) 'The Immigrants 1928' Oil on canvas from a Toronto private collection. Photo Sean Weaver (Montreal Museum of Fine Arts). Article CBC Montreal by Jeanette Kelly, Arts Reporter at CBC Montreal.