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 Anne Douglas Savage  (1896 - 1971)

About: Anne Douglas Savage
 

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Lived/Active: Quebec / Canada      Known for: landscape, ethnology, portrait painting, graphic art, teaching

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from Auction House Records.
Winter Morning
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Anne Douglas Savage (AKA: Anne Savage) was a painter, graphic artist and educator.  She was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada where, other than for travel and study, she lived her entire life and died.
 
Her primary mediums were oil on plywood panel and oil on canvas.  There are also graphite sketches, notably, from her travels with anthropologist Marius Barbeau.  Watercolours and works in other mediums are rare (1).  Her subjects were landscape, West Coast Indians, urban scenes, farmhouses, figures, portraits, genre, medical drawings and ethnological studies (e.g. totems, artefacts).

The Quebec locations are in the Laurentians and lower St. Lawrence River area, especially around her family’s summer home at Lake Wonish and before that at Metis Beach. S he also has works from her expedition to British Columbia and Alberta with Marius Barbeau (see AskART example “The Totems”).  Her style was a distinctive lyrical Fauvism much influenced by A.Y. Jackson (2) (see AskART) and the Group of Seven*. Blue Ice, Lake Wonish and  The Storm, illustrated in AskART, are good examples of her best known mature work.
 
Quote: “You can go down to a fishing village and the thing is right there - there’s nothing to do other than to do it. But if you’re faced with a forest that you have to unravel a bit and you have to search around and find your plains and your hills, and model it up that way, it takes a lot more looking.” – Anne Savage.
 
She studied at the Art Association of Montreal (3) (1914 - 1918) under William Brymner and Maurice Cullen and at the Minneapolis School of Design (1920) under Mary Moulton Cheney (see all teachers in AskART).  She worked for a short time as a medical artist making drawings of facial reconstructions (1919 - 1920) in Montreal at the Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue Military Hospital, the Toronto Christie Street Military Hospital and in Minneapolis.
 
Her teaching career began in 1921 at Montreal’s Commercial and Technical High School.  In 1922, she was transferred to Baron Byng High School where she taught until 1948.  Her other teaching activities included introducing art courses for children at the Art Association of Montreal (1937 - 1940), instructing classes for art teachers in Edmonton and Calgary (1937), Supervisor of Art for the Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal (1948 - 1952), teaching at the Banff School of Fine Arts (summer 1949), and lecturing on art education at McGill University, Montreal (1954 - 1959).  She was also instrumental in founding the High School Art Teacher’s Association and The Child Art Council (later the Quebec Society for Education Through Art).  Her students included artists Rita Briansky, Moe Reinblatt, Tobie Steinhouse, Alfred Pinsky (see previous four in AskART), Sylvia Ary, Seymour Segal and David Silverberg and author Mordecai Richler.
 
Quote: “The outstanding quality that a teacher must have is absolute belief in the power of the child to find his own way . . . no mistakes are possible, no criticism, only appreciation and delight in the doing.” – Anne Savage.
 
Her travels include a visit to Europe in 1924 and, the previously discussed expedition to, the Skeena River in British Columbia in 1927 with Marius Barbeau and Florence Wyle (see AskART) (4) to record the deteriorating totem poles before engineers began restoration work. The works produced on the Skeena trip were displayed as part of the 1927 exhibition "Canadian West Coast Art, Native and Modern" at the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa).
 
Quote: “I didn’t like the West. No. The West for me was too vertical . . .  In the West you get nothing but a repetition of high cliffs, high trees, everything just went up and up and up.” – Anne Savage.
 
She was a founding member of the Beaver Hall Group * (1920) and the Canadian Group of Painters * (1933) which she served as president of in 1949 and 1960.
 
In addition to exhibiting with the above groups she exhibited with the Art Association of Montreal (1917 - 1961) and the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (1918 - 1931).  Her works were also in several landmark exhibitions including the "British Empire Exposition" ( Wembley, England - 1925), the Musée du Jeu de Paume (Paris - 1927), "Paintings by Contemporary Canadian Artists" (Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. - 1930), the "First Baltimore Pan American Exhibition of Contemporary Painting" (Baltimore Museum of Art - 1931),  the "British Empire Overseas Exhibition" (London -1937), the "63rd Autumn Exhibition (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool -1938), “A Century of Canadian Art” (Tate Gallery, London - 1938), the "New York World’s Fair" (1939),  the "Golden Gate Art Exposition" (San Francisco - 1939), “Canadian Women Artists” (Riverside Museum, New York - 1947) and “The Beaver Hall Group” (National Gallery of Canada - 1966).  Her works were also in the 1926 and 1931 Group of Seven exhibitions.
 
Posthumously, her work was included in “Painting in the Thirties” (National Gallery of Canada - 1975), “The Laurentian Painters: Painters in a Landscape” (Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto - 1977), “The Group of Seven – Art For A Nation” (National Gallery of Canada - 1995), and “The Birth of the Modern: Post-Impressionism in Canadian Art, c.1900-1920” (The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, Ontario - 2001).
 
The venues for her solo and posthumous retrospective exhibitions include the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1956, 1979, 1980), Concordia University, Montreal (1974),  and Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal (1992).  One of the most recent was the 2007 exhibition at Concordia University titled “Anne Savage: The Living Spirit and Her Concordia Legacy”.
 
Her works are avidly collected. They are also in many public collections including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Montreal  Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ontario), the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario), the Ottawa Art Gallery (Ontario), the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (B.C.) and the Vancouver Art Gallery (B.C.).  The National Gallery of Canada has 87 Anne Savage works in its permanent collection.

Concordia University is the research centre for the study of Anne Savage. It is the home of the Anne Savage Archives which includes correspondence, art works, scrapbooks, pedagogical notes, biographical documents, public lectures, photographs, catalogues and other materials associated with exhibitions, and press clippings.  Also included are taped interviews with Anne Savage by H.A. Calvin.  The archives were organized and the donation to the University arranged by Leah Sherman Distinguished Professor Emeritus and a former student of Anne Douglas Savage.

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx
 
 
Footnotes:
 
(1) Of the 87 Anne Savage works in The National Gallery of Canada, 17 are oil paintings and the rest are graphite drawings.  Reviewing auction records going back to 1982 the author could find no Anne Savage work in any medium other than oil paint.  Yet, it is assumed that as a student, teacher and lifelong professional artist she must have at one time tried other mediums.  The primary evidence of her use of watercolour is the 1974 Concordia University exhibition (then Sir George Williams Gallery) "Anne D. Savage: Drawings and Watercolours".
 
(2) A.Y. Jackson was a lifelong friend and, it seems from the over 300 letters uncovered from him to her, a romantic interest.  Neither of them ever married.  Source: “Anne Savage: The Story of a Canadian Painter” (1977), by Anne McDougall, published by Harvest House (199 pgs, B&W and colour).
 
(3) The AAM became the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1948.
 
(4) Barbeau also arranged for A.Y. Jackson and Edwin Holgate to visit the Skeena in 1926 and for Pegi Nichol (AKA: Pegi Nichol Macleod) to work on the Stoney reserve in Morley, Alberta in 1927 (see all artists in AskART).  Their works were also included in the subsequent exhibition, as were with Emily Carr's and others.  Many of the paintings, drawings and, in the case of Wyle, poems produced on the Barbeau trips are in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada.
 
 
Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke

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