|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
- Born in Teeswater, Ontario in 1873 to parents John and Charity Riter (nee Zimmerman).
- Mary moved to Clearwater, Manitoba as a small child. She spent her early years there and married Charles W. Hamilton in 1889.
- The newlyweds moved to Port Arthur where Charles became a "leading merchant" running one of the town's general stores.
- Mary returned to Manitoba in 1893 following Charles' death
where she opened a china painting school. This was a very popular art
form of the period and success soon followed.
- Following a brief period of study in Toronto, she departed for Europe to continue her education in 1901.
- She spent her first year in Berlin studying under Italian
landscape artist Franz Skarbina. The following year she moved to Paris
to study under several well-known artists including Jacques-Emile
Blanche and Paul-Jean Gervais.
- By 1909 her work began to get recognition. Her painting, Les Pauvres,
was displayed at The Salon which meant acceptance by the French
Academy. This same painting would later be on display in 1915 at the
Panama-Pacific Exhibition held in San Francisco.
- She returned to Winnipeg in 1911 due to her mother's failing
health - only her second visit home since her initial trip to the
continent in 1901. She brought with her a collection of nearly one
hundred and fifty oils and water colors. They went on display at
several galleries in 1911 and early 1912 where they were met with
- Mary would remain in Winnipeg through the war. She decided to
try her hand at a Candian landscape series which included scenes of
Alberta and native Indians. While the works were met positively, they
would not afford her the luxury of financial independence.
- During the war, Mary would donate paintings to aid in fundraising activities.
- In 1919 she was commissioned by H. F. Paton's Gold Stripe,
which was a tribute to those who were killed, maimed and wounded in the
Great War, to produce paintings of the French battlefields for
reproduction in the publication.
- She spent the years from 1919 until 1922 living in France
alone in a tin hut amid the Chinese workers hired to clear the Western
Front of the debris of war. The conditions ran the gamut from
uncomfortable to downright dangerous due to gangs of "criminals"
roaming the region.
- Her paintings were exhibited in both Vancouver and Victoria as well as being published in the Gold Stripe. While they were well received, her biggest successes were in France and
Britain. At the Somme Memorial Exhibit she was awarded the purple ribbon of Les Palmes Academiques,
the Order of Public Instruction. She was the only Canadian artist to be
recognized in this fashion. Her battlefield art went on to win more
awards including the gold medal at the International Decorative Arts
Exhibition of 1925.
- She returned to Winnipeg in 1925, blind in one eye due to an illness in 1923, where she once again opened a teaching studio.
- In July of 1925 she donated 227 of her battlefield works to the Canadian Public Archives.
- She moved to Vancouver in 1929 and again opened a teaching
studio. By 1948, her health failing and undergoing financial
difficulties, she gave up the studio.
- She died in Vancouver in 1954 at the age of 81. She is buried in Port Arthur next to her husband Charles.
- Source: http://www.worldwar1.com/sfmrh.htm
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Mary Hamilton is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915