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 Ethel Seath  (1879 - 1963)

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Lived/Active: Quebec / Canada      Known for: painting, illustration, graphic art and teaching

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Ethel Seath was a painter, illustrator, commercial artist, graphic artist and educator.  She was born, lived and died in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Her mediums were oil, watercolour, gouache, charcoal, pastel, pen and ink, pencil, etching and mixed mediums.  Her subjects were landscapes, city scenes, village scenes, farm life, genre, still life, churches, coastal views and harbour scenes.  The locations were primarily in and around Montreal, the Laurentians and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Her styles could be described as Realism, Post Impressionism, Plein Air and Fauvism.  Her mature work is recognized by its abstract qualities emphasizing form and colour.
Her formal art education includes classes at the Art Association of Montreal (1), from the 1890s to the 1910s, under William Brymner, Edmond Dyonnet and Maurice Cullen (see all in AskART).  During that time she also studied at the Cape Cod School of Art (Provincetown, Massachusetts) (2) under Charles Hawthorne. Quote: "Let color make form - do not make form and color it. Forget about drawing …" - Charles Hawthorne (3).
She started working as an illustrator at the Montreal Witness Newspaper in 1896 and subsequently worked for the Montreal Star (1901) and the Family Herald and Weekly Star (1909 - 1917).  Her associates during that time included illustrators Arthur G. Racey and Henri Julien (see both in AskART).
In 1917 she joined the staff of The Study School for girls as the art teacher and worked there until retirement in 1962.  She also taught Saturday morning classes at the Art Association of Montreal (c. 1937 -1940).  Quote: "The aims of Art education are to help children to see, to feel and to express beauty with clean, spontaneous feeling." - Ethel Seath.
She was a founding member of the Contemporary Arts Society in 1939 (see AskART glossary) and the Federation of Canadian Artists in 1941.  She was also a member of the Canadian Group of Painters (1940) (see AskART glossary); and the informal group of women artists known as the Beaver Hall Hill Group (see AskART glossary).
In addition to exhibiting with the above artist organizations she exhibited with the Art Association of Montreal from 1905 to 1956 and with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts from 1906 to 1938.  Her works were also included in "The British Empire Exhibition" at Wembley, England (1924); "A Century of Canadian Painting" at the Tate Gallery, London, England (1938); at the New York World's Fair (1939); in the "Canadian Women Artists" exhibition at Riverside Museum, New York (1947); and at the "Festival of Britain" London, England (1951).
In 1940 she was grouped with Anne Savage, Prudence Heward and Sarah Robertson (see all in AskART) for a show at the Art Gallery of Toronto (4), and in 1950 she was included in the exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts titled "Six Montreal Women".
Posthumously, her works were shown in "Canadian Painting in the 30's" (1975) at the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa).  In 1987 Galerie Walter Klinkhoff (Montreal) hosted "Ethel Seath: A Retrospective Exhibition".
Her works are avidly collected.  They are also in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery (Owen Sound, Ontario), the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the National Gallery of Canada.

(1) In 1948 the AAM became the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
(2) The Cape Cod School of Art (1899 -1930), founded by Charles Webster Hawthorne, was the first outdoor summer school for Plein Air painting and grew into one of the nation's leading art schools. See the AskART biographical essays on Charles Hawthorne to learn more about the school and one of the important influences on Ethel Seath's painting and teaching style.
(3) Page 26 of Hawthorne on Painting (1938), by Mrs. Charles Hawthorne, Dover Publications (91pgs).
(4) Since 1966, the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke

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