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 Kathleen Moir Morris  (1893 - 1986)

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Lived/Active: Quebec / Canada      Known for: snow-landscape, city scene, genre and still life painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Kathleen Moir Morris was a painter.  She was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and except for 8 years (1922-1929) in Ottawa, lived in Montreal and its environs all her life.  She died in Rawdon, Quebec, which is about 50 miles north of Montreal.
Her mediums were oil on plywood panel and oil on canvas.  Her subjects were landscape (snowscape), figures in landscape, market scenes, Montreal street scenes, genre, and still life. Her most famous images are of shaggy horses hitched to sleighs waiting on the street in the snow.  Her style was Impressionist and Plein Air (1).  It is recognized by simplified forms and vibrant colours.
She studied at the Art Association of Montreal (2) (1907 - 1917) with William Brymner  (see AskART) and took two years of private lessons with Maurice Cullen (see AskART).  Her stated influence was the work of James Wilson Morrice (see AskART).  Interestingly, these three influences are considered by many to be the most important fathers of Impressionism in Canada.
She exhibited with the Beaver Hall Hill Group of painters in the 1920's (3)(4); in 1929 she was elected an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts; and in 1940 she became a member of the Canadian Group of Painters.
In addition to exhibiting with the above groups she exhibited with the Art Association of Montreal ( 1914 - 1957) and the Ontario Society of Artists (1921).  She also exhibited at the "British Empire Exhibition", Wembley, England (1924, 25); the "First Pan-American Exhibition", Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1925); the  "Exposition d'art Canadien", Musée du Jeu de Paume, Paris, France (1927); the "British Empire Trade Exhibition", Buenos Aires, Argentina (1931); the "Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture by Artists of the British Empire Overseas", Royal Institute Galleries, London, England (1937); "A Century of Canadian Art", Tate Gallery, London, England (1938); the "New York  World's Fair", New York City (1939); "Pintura Canadense Contemporanea", Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1944); "Canadian Women Artists", Riverside Museum, New York (1947); "Contempo rary Canadian Painting", Canadian Club, New York (1948); and "Festival of Britain", London, England (1951).
Important solo showings of her work have been held at the Art Association of Montreal in 1939 and the Montreal Arts Club in 1956 and 1962.  The Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario) had a major retrospective of her work in 1983.  Galerie Walter Klinkhoff (Montreal) has had numerous important solo exhibitions of her work since 1973 the most recent being in 2003.
Her work is avidly collected, and is also in many museums including the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (B.C.); the Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ontario); the Canadian Legation (Paris, France); Hart House (University of Toronto); the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa).
On a more personal, note she was born with a congenital disorder of the nervous system. It affected her speech and movements. While some experts claim they notice a "nervous brush" the only place it is obvious is perhaps in her signature.
She is listed in A Dictionary of Canadian Artists (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald; in The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar; in Jaques Cattell Press Who's Who in American Art 15th Edition (1982); and in The National Gallery of Canada Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture - Vol III: Canadian School (1960), by R.H. Hubbard.  Press coverage of her work goes back to at least 1921 ( La Presse January 20).
(1) QUOTE: "I couldn't walk miles, so I would be taken out to paint in a sleigh where I would be dropped off .?The snow was so deep that the only place I could paint was in the tracks of the sleigh. I wore an old fur coat with an apron over it and a fur hat with earflaps. I was enough to frighten anything that came down the road." - Kathleen Morris in a 1976 interview with Wini Rider of The Gazette.
(2) After 1948 it became the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
(3) The Beaver Hall Group was an association of Quebec artists which officially began its existence in 1920. Under the leadership of A.Y. Jackson, the group attracted and fostered the work of artists interested in the newest European trends and unconcerned about the consequences of cold-shouldering traditional approaches to subject representation. Remarkably, unlike its Ontario counterpart, the Group of Seven, the Beaver Hall Group had a large contingent of female artists, and though the Group prided itself on its eschewal of any bias-related to class, gender, or artistic preference, it seems to have been especially hospitable to women and proved an excellent springboard for their careers.The first group only existed for two years (1920 - 1922). It consisted of artists, most of whom had studios at 305 Beaver Hall Hill, Montreal. After the group disbanded for financial reasons some of the women artists still used the studios. They were joined by other women artists and this group of painters was later to become known as The Beaver Hall Hill Group. The members of the original (formal) group were James Crockart, Jeanne de Crèvec?ur, Adrien Hébert, Henri Hébert, Randolph S. Hewton, Edwin Holgate, Alexander Y. Jackson, John Y. Johnstone, Mabel Lockerby, Henrietta Mabel May, Darrell Morrissey, Lilias Torrance Newton, Hal Ross Perrigard, Robert Wakeman Pilot, Sarah M. Robertson, Sybil Robertson, Anne Savage, Adam Sheriff Scott, Regina Seiden and William Thurstan Topham. The second group included Nora Collyer, Emily Coonan, Prudence Heward, Mabel Lockerby, Henrietta Mabel May, Kathleen Moir Morris, Lilias Torrance Newton, Sarah Robertson, Anne Savage and Ethel Seath.  Sources: Jacques Des Rochers, Curator of Canadian Art, Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal; and the book "The Women of Beaver Hall: Canadian Modernist Painters" (2005) by Evelyn Walters.
(4) While many of the Beaver Hall Group exhibited with the Group of Seven (see AskART glossary) Kathleen Morris never did.

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke


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