Sophie Pemberton

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Sophie Pemberton

Sophia Theresa "Sophie" Pemberton (13 February 1869 - 31 October 1959) was a Canadian painter. Despite the social limitations placed on female artists at the time, she made a noteworthy contribution to Canadian art and was the first woman to win the Prix Julian, in 1899.[1]

Born in Victoria, British Columbia, Sophie, as she was known throughout her life,[1] was the daughter of Teresa Jane Grautoff and Joseph Despard Pemberton (1821–1893). A successful executive with the Hudson's Bay Company and the first Surveyor-General of Vancouver Island, her father could afford to send her to live and study in Paris at the Académie Julian.[2]

Little Boy Blue by Pemberton

Pemberton painted at a time when her chosen media had been the exclusive domain of men and her European influences can be seen in her work. The painter of both portraits and landscapes, Pemberton was the first artist from the province of British Columbia to receive international acclaim when her work was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London, including her award-winning 1897 work seen here, entitled Little Boy Blue.

In 1905, she married Canon Arthur Beanlands, an Anglican priest, a widower. He died in 1917 and in 1920 she married Horace Deane-Drummond, who was older than her and indeed had children almost her age.[1]

Beyond her work on canvas, Pemberton taught painting to local female artists. In 1909 she did the artistic decoration for the non-denominational Pemberton Memorial Chapel gifted by her family to Victoria's Royal Jubilee Hospital.

She was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.[3]

Pemberton died in 1959 in Victoria and was interred there in the Ross Bay Cemetery.


  1. ^ a b c Tuele, Nicholas Craig (1980), Sophia Theresa Pemberton: Her Life and Art, The University of British Columbia 
  2. ^ Francis (ed), Daniel (2000) [1999], Francis, Daniel, ed., Encyclopedia of British Columbia, Harbour Publishing, p. 537, ISBN 1-55017-200-X 
  3. ^ "Members since 1880". Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Retrieved 30 December 2013.