Beaver Hall Group
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Inaugurated through the efforts of Randolph Hewton, Edwin Holgate, Mabel May and Lilias Torrance Newton, the group took its name from Beaver Hall Hill, the downtown Montreal street where its members shared studio space. Many of the group's participants had studied under William Brymner (1855–1925), a prominent Canadian artist who encouraged them to explore new modernistic approaches to painting. However, in an era when women artists were viewed as little more than hobbyists and were left out of the mainstream world of professional art, the Beaver Hall Group was the first Canadian artists association in which women played a central role. Although the American painter Mary Cassatt had inspired many, Cassatt had had to move permanently to France to get serious recognition for her work. At least one member of the group, Prudence Heward, would follow Cassatt's lead and study in Paris.
Originally made up of eleven men and eight women, in January 1921 the Beaver Hall Group organized their first exhibition. However, their association only survived for two years but at a time in history when women were also excluded from social clubs, six female artists decided to continue with their meetings and soon they were joined by three more female members. Artistically, they painted a variety of subjects including portraits, landscapes, urban scenes and still life. In 1924, they gave up the rented studio but maintained their working studios at home. Many of the women from the Beaver Hall Group exhibited with the all-male Group of Seven, their works exhibited in the United States and England. Although the Group of Seven broke up, in 1933 women from the Beaver Hall Group helped establish the Canadian Group of Painters that organized exhibitions of their works.
The "Final Ten" Beaver Hall Group members were:
- Nora Collyer
- Emily Coonan
- Prudence Heward
- Mabel Lockerby
- Mabel May
- Kathleen Morris
- Lilias Torrance Newton
- Sarah Robertson
- Anne Savage
- Ethel Seath
Beaver Hall Group in media
In 1994, filmmaker Pepita Ferrari directed the National Film Board of Canada documentary By Woman's Hand, chronicling the Beaver Hall Hill Group. The film featured three of the most prominent artists from the group: Prudence Heward, Sarah Robertson and Anne Savage. In 2000, author Barbara Meadowcroft's book about these female painters was published under the title, Painting Friends: The Beaver Hall Women Painters.
- Alison Gillmor, "Quebec’s Group of Seven:Remembering the Canadian art collective Beaver Hall Group (CBC article)", January 9, 2006.
- Barbara Meadowcroft (1999). Painting Friends. Véhicule Press. ISBN 1-55065-125-0
- Walters, Evelyn (2005), The women of Beaver Hall: Canadian modernist painters, Dundurn Press, ISBN 1-55002-588-0
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