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KEENE, Minna

Arolsen, Germany, 1861
Oakville, Ontario, 1943
Biography synopsis
Minna Keene (nee Bergman) moved to Britain between 1870 and 1880 where she became a photographer. Both her pictorial photographs and her portraits were recognized by various newspapers and journals at this time. Her work varied from ornithological images for English school books to portraits of famous statesmen. In 1908 she became a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, one of the first women to receive that honour. Around 1903 the Keene family moved to Cape Town, South Africa where Minna Keene did photographic studies of various ethnic groups. Ten years later the family moved to Canada, and Keene was hired briefly by the Canadian Pacific Railroad to photograph the Rocky Mountains. The Keenes settled in Oakville in 1922, where Minna opened a studio. Keene's work was exhibited around the world during her lifetime and was included in the 1983 exhibit "Rediscovery: Canadian Women Photographers 1841-1941." Her photographs are in the collections of the National Archives of Canada and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC in 1925. Her work was included in the 2016 Tate Gallery exhibition "Painting with Light ..."
Media used
Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, 1908, Fellow
Linked Ring, London
London Salon of Photography
File & Archive locations
Smithsonian Institution, DC - Archives of American Art
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives
Art Gallery of Ontario - Edward P. Taylor Research Library and Archives
Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Documentation Centre, QC
Library and Archives Canada / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, ON

Writings about
Photogram of the Year, 1926. Edited by F.J. Mortimer London: Iliffe & Sons, 1926
The First International Tokyo Salon of Photography: 1935. Tokyo: Tokyo Salon of Photography, 1935
"Mrs. Caleb Keene: Noted Photographer was World Traveller." Globe and Mail (Toronto) 6 Nov. 1943: 7
"Photographs of Mrs. Minna Keene." British Journal of Photography 61 (1914): 270
Ainley, Marianne Gosztonyi. Despite the Odds Essays on Canadian Women and Science. Montreal, QC: Vehicule Press, 1990
Close, Susan Michelle. Framing Identity: Mattie Gunterman, Geraldine Moodie and the Social Practice of Photography in Canada (1880 - 1920). Ottawa: Carleton University (M.A. thesis), 1995
Corrigall, Malcolm. "Minna Keene: A Neglected Pioneer." Image & Text: A Journal for Design 32 (2018)
Crompton, Sarah. "She takes a Good Picture: Six Forgotten Female Pioneers of Photography." The Guardian 6 May 2016
Guest, Antony. "Mrs. Minna Keene's Exhibition at 'The A.P. [American Place]' Little Gallery." Amateur Photographer and Photographic News (30 Mar. 1914): 306
Huneault, Kristina and Janice Anderson, eds. Rethinking Professionalism: Women and Art in Canada, 1850-1970. Montreal: McGill-Queen's Press, 2012
Irwin, Alan Maruice. "How a Woman Found Fame With a Camera." MacLean's Magazine 39.7 (1 Apr. 1926): 72-4
Jacobi, Carole and Hope KIngsley. Painting with Light: Art and Photography from the Pre-Raphaelite to the Modern Age. London: Tate Publishing, 2016
Jones, Laura. Rediscovery: Canadian Women Photographers 1841-1941, May 13th-June 27th, 1983. London, Ontario: London Regional Art Gallery, 1983
Koltun, Lilly ed. Private Realms of Light: Amateur Photography in Canada 1839-1940. Markham, Ontario: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1984
Markovic, Mina. "Across the Globe: The Life and Career of Minna Keene." National Gallery of Canada Magazine Feb. 17, 2022
Newbury, Darren, Rizzo, Lorena, and Kylie Thomas.. Women and Photography in Africa: Creative Practices and Feminist Challenges. London, New York: Routledge, 2020
Pedersen, Diana, and Martha Phemister. "Women and Photography in Ontario, 1839-1929: A Case Study of the Interaction of Gender and Technology." Scientia Canadensis: Canadian Journal of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine / Scientia Canadensis: Revue canadienne d'histoire des sciences, des techniques et de la médecine 9.1 (1985): 27-52
Rodger, Andrew. "Minnie Keene, F.R.P.S.." Photographic Canadiana 15.4 (Jan - Feb 1990): 3-4
Rodger, Andrew C. "Minna Keene, F.R.P.S." The Archivist 14.1 (Jan. - Feb. 1987)
Rosenblum, Naomi. A History of Women Photographers. New York: Abbeville, 2000

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