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Helen Galloway McNicoll

Study of a Child


Helen Galloway McNicoll
Toronto 1879 – Swanage, England, 1915


Study of a Child


About 1913


Oil on canvas


61 x 50.8 cm


Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David McNicoll, inv. 1915.121


Quebec and Canadian Art

After losing her hearing as a child, McNicoll acquired a vast capacity for introspection that would leave its mark on her work. She studied painting at the school of the Art Association of Montreal with Brymner, who would then encourage her to attend the Slade School of Art, London. By pursuing her studies in London rather than in Paris, McNicoll set herself apart from most Canadian artists. After a three-month stay working in Paris, she returned to England, to St. Ives, Cornwall, where she discovered the plein-air approach championed by Talmage and likely met British painter Sharp. Sharp became a close friend, helped her to find models and accompanied her to the Continent, where NcNicoll learned about Impressionism. In 1913, she became a member of the Royal Society of British Artists and an associate member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts the following year. McNicoll, a diabetic, died a year later, at the age of thirty-six. This Study of a Child, a subject traditionally associated with women artists, is rendered with great sensitivity, while the rapid touch and enhanced tonal values bathe the work with light.

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