This exhibition celebrates women born in the 19th century who overcame the barriers of their time prescribed by their gender to achieve success and acclaim as professional artists. Each a contributor to Canada’s art history, these Canadian women and women active in Canada—whether self-taught, students of important Canadian male artists of the 19th century, or trained in European academies—have yet to receive the acknowledgement they deserve as contributors to the history of women, professional artists and artistic practice in our country. While examples of work by revered women artists such as Emily Carr are featured, this exhibition seeks to expand the recognition due to those who are less familiar but arguably equally deserving.
Including early travellers to Canada affiliated with the Hudson’s Bay Company, Americans who emigrated to Canada for marriage, and born-and-raised Albertans, the exhibition features artworks from the mid-19th to early 20th by women artists who number among them:
- The first women to be elected into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and the first woman to be represented in the National Gallery of Canada collection, Charlotte Schreiber
- The founder of the Women’s Art Association of Canada, Mary Ella Dignam
- Early presidents of the Edmonton Arts Club, Florence Maud Mortimer and Alice M. Daley
- The first Canadian to win the Prix Julian from the Académie Julian in Paris, Sophie Pemberton
- The first president of the International Council of Women, the initiator of the Canadian branch of the National Council of Women, the first sponsor of the Women’s Art Association of Canada, the first woman to address the House of Commons, and the first woman to receive and Honorary degree in Canada, Ishbel Marie Marjoribanks Hamilton-Gordon, Marchioness of Aberdeen and Temair (also known as Lady Aberdeen).
This exhibition includes works from the AGA collection and loans from Canadian art collections, including the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Glenbow, University of Alberta Museum Collections, Vancouver Art Gallery and Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Organized by the Art Gallery of Alberta. Curated by Laura Ritchie. Presented by Capital Powered Art, an exhibition series sponsored by Capital Power Corporation. Supported by the following Artist Patrons: Leon & Vonnie Zupan; Margo Helper & Gregory Forrest; Maggie & John Mitchell; Sheila O'Brien, CM; Marianne & Allan Scott; and Marlene & David Stratton, Q.C.
Laura Muntz Lyall, Mother and Child, c. 1895. Oil on wood panel. Art Gallery of Alberta Collection, gift of The Ernest E. Poole Foundation, 1975.
Emily Carr. Strait of Juan de Fuca, c. 1936. Oil on paper and canvas, Art Gallery of Alberta Collection, gift of Mrs. Max Stern, Dominion Gallery, Montreal, 1973.
Sophie Pemberton, John O’Dreams, 1901. Oil on Canvas. Collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Gift of the Artist.