I have always loved modern art from the 1920-40 period, particularly the paintings and prints done by Australian women like Ethel Spowers, Grace Cossington Smith, Margaret Preston and Nora Heyson. I didn't know much about Canadian women artists from the same period until a Xmas gift from mom of a book entitled The Women of Beaver Hall, Canadian Modernist Painters by Evelyn Walters. One of the artists discussed in this book is Prudence Heward, born in 1896, died in 1947 at age 51. She grew up in a privileged Montreal family, taking art classes locally and later studying in Paris throughout the 1920's. Most of Heward's painting was done in her studio in Montreal, landscapes inspired by family country properties and portraits, often of her family and friends.
What I love about her figurative paintings is the engagement they make with the viewer. In many of the portraits the subject's eyes are firmly placed on the viewer and at times appear quite scornful!.
|Rollande, 1929, Prudence Heward|
In Rolande, the subject appears quite defiant and her leg is coming out of the picture frame which helps to engage the viewer. I love the patterns within the picture and the defined foreground, mid and backgrounds. This painting was well received by the art critics and was purchased by the National Gallery of Canada for $600 which was a huge amount at the time.
At the Theatre (see at the top of this post) is a painting which sets the viewer directly behind the theatre goers, so close you can nearly smell the au de cologne (? lily of the valley) and read the girl's program. Again the strong patterns and full forms of the figures make this a lovely work.
Have a look below at some other portraits and the last one which is a charming landscape by this wonderful Canadian artist who many believed at the time to be one of the very best painters in Canada.