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Currently shown
Prudence Heward

At the Theatre

Artist

Prudence Heward
Montreal 1896 – Los Angeles 1947

Title

At the Theatre

Date

1928

Materials

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

101.6 x 101.6 cm

Credits

Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 1964.1497

Collection

Quebec and Canadian Art

This unusual composition delineates the bodies and clothing of two women – possibly sisters of Beaver Hall artist Sarah Robertson – against the more abstracted figures of other members of a theatre audience. When the painting was shown at the 1929 annual exhibition of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, Samuel Morgan-Powell of The Montreal Daily Star regarded it only as “a study of décolleté,” while H. Poynter Bell, in a review appearing in the Journal of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, found it of “chiefly technical” interest. Albert Laberge, writing for La Presse, proved much more enthusiastic, lauding the painting’s “originality of conception” and the “vigour” of its execution, and hailing it as “a work denoting a true artist.” Heward probably considered this work to be among her most accomplished, because it was also placed on view at the Fifth Annual Exhibition of Canadian Art, held at the National Gallery of Canada in January 1930, and that same year, in April, it was featured in the Group of Seven show at the Art Gallery of Toronto and, in May, at the Art Association of Montreal.

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