For Lilias Torrance Newton, who painted about three hundred portraits – many featuring the most prominent Canadians of the period – close acquaintance with her mainly female models allowed her to convey their personality in more natural poses. The portrait Lady in Black was commissioned by Albert Henry Steward Gillson, the sitter’s husband and a member of the modern painting acquisition committee of the Art Association, which bought it in 1939. A little later the same year, Gillson organized an exhibition of Newton’s work at the Art Association. The characteristic elegance of her portraits contrasts with the frank vigour of those by Holgate, as seen in Holgate’s portrait of Gillson as a professor of mathematics, commissioned by the sitter in 1924.
© National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa