Home > Artist Database > Bio-bibliographic Database > HAGEN, Alice Mary Egan

Artist Database

HAGEN, Alice Mary Egan

Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1872
Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, 1972
Biography synopsis
A prolific and skilled china painter and potter, Alice Hagen continued to study and learn new ceramic techniques throughout her long life. Her interest in china painting was first sparked while she was a student at the Victoria School of Art and Design, Halifax, despite the fact that the subject was not taught there. In the 1890s, Hagen began taking lessons in china painting with Bessie Brown, a local artist. In 1896, she was one of sixteen artists selected to paint a State Dinner Service for the Governor General's residence. The theme of the set, eventually presented to Lady Aberdeen, was "Canada," and Hagen painted the game plates with the game birds of her native land. As a result of this commission, the artist was able to acquire her first kiln in 1896 and begin her ceramics career. That summer, she traveled to New York to study china painting with Adelaide Alsop Robineau. A few years later, in 1898, she became a teacher of china painting herself, in her studio and at the Victoria School of Art and Design. After her marriage to John Hagen in 1901, the family moved to Jamaica in 1912 where Hagen continued to teach and exhibit, donating proceeds to the Red Cross. She was awarded the silver and bronze Musgrave medals by the government of Jamaica. They returned to Halifax in 1917, and she held an exhibition at the Women's Art Association Studio in Toronto shortly thereafter. In 1930, while traveling in France, Hagen visited a pottery that employed disabled war veterans and became interested in the craft. Upon her return to Halifax, she studied with Robert Prescott and set up a pottery studio and kiln at her house in Mahone Bay. An avid experimenter, she developed techniques which allowed her to use local materials, and invented her own blue, white and green ware which she called "Scotian Pebble." In the 1950s, she donated many of her works to the Nova Scotia Museum, the Mount Saint Vincent Museum and the Des Brisay Museum.
Media used
China painting
Victoria School of Art and Design (now NSCAD), 1893 - 1899
Private study, 1896 (under Adelaide Alsop Robineau)
Private study, 1890? - 1896? (under Bessie Brown)
Private study, 1931? - ? (under Robert Prescott)
File & Archive locations
Art Gallery of Ontario - Edward P. Taylor Research Library and Archives
London Public Library, ON
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives
University of British Columbia - Fine Arts Library
Vancouver Art Gallery, BC - Library
Winnipeg Art Gallery, MA - Clara Lander Library
Library and Archives Canada / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, ON
Artexte Information Centre, QC - Documentation Centre
Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Documentation Centre, QC
University of Waterloo Library, ON

Writings about
"94-Year-Old Potter Will Cut Ribbon." Chronicle-Herald (Halifax) 21 Oct. 1966
"Alice Egan Hagen, Nova Scotia Ceramist." http://msvuart.ca/index.php?menid_02&mtyp_17&article_id=26&win=print Halifax: Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery, 11 Aug. 2004
"Alice Hagen." Atlantic Advocate (Fredericton) 62 (Mar. 1972)
"Alice Mary Hagen fonds." http://www.lib.uwaterloo.ca/discipline/SpecColl/archives/hagen.html Waterloo: University of Waterloo Library, 20 Sept. 2000
"Artist's gift to NCW library." Chronicle-Herald (Halifax) 14 Jun. 1962
"Mount Memories of Alice Egan." Folia Montana (Spring 1965)
"MSVU Headlines. Online Exhibit." http://www.msvu.ca/MediaCentre/NewsEvents/2004/June04/JN04-05.asp Halifax: Mount Saint Vincent University, 13 Aug. 2004
"N.S. pioneer potter, artist dies at 99." Chronicle-Herald (Halifax) 17 Jan. 1972: 20
"Portrait." Canadian Geographical Journal 28 (Feb. 1944): 73
"Show Opening Reception." Mail-Star (Halifax) 9 Jul. 1976
"Symposium set for Mount." Mail-Star (Halifax) 14 Jan. 1982
"The Mount Art Gallery..." Daily Star (Halifax) 12 Nov. 1992
"The State Dinner Set." Globe (Toronto) 23 Jul. 1897
"Work of provincial potter at Mount exhibition." Chronicle-Herald (Halifax) 12 Jun. 1976
American Federation of Arts. Who's Who in American Art, 1962. New York: R.R. Bowker, 1962
Barker, Dorothy. "Artist, 94, Still Has Ambition." Sackville Tribune-Post 15 Dec. 1966
Barnard, Elissa. "Jewels for a Queen; Dishes Fit for a King." Chronicle-Herald (Halifax) 3 Dec. 1984: E2
Canadian Library Association. Canadian Biographies: Artists and Authors. Ottawa: Canadian Library Association, 1951
Canadian Museum of Civilization. This Splendid Gift: the Canadian Historical Dinner Service Ottawa: Canadian Museum of History, 1999
Cronin, Keri. "Science on a Salad Plate: Thinking about the Representation of Natural History in the Canadian Historic Dinner Service Project 1." Natural Science in the New World: The Descriptive Enterprise 31: 1-2 (2008)
Crosby, Betty. "There's a revival of interest in china painting." Chronicle-Herald (Halifax) 17 Aug. 1981: 7
Elwood, Marie. Alice Hagen. Halifax: Anna Leonowens Gallery, NSCAD, 1984
Elwood, Marie. "The State Dinner Service of Canada, 1898." Material History Bulletin/Bulletin d'histoire de la culture matérielle 3 (Spring 1977): 41-49
Gotlieb, Rachel. "The Art of the Table." Globe and Mail (Toronto) 10 Feb. 2007: L8
Grevatt, Gerrie. "Hagen Pottery to be exhibited." Chronicle-Herald (Halifax) 12 Jul. 1989: 20
Hill, Charles. For an Integration of the Arts Artists, Architects, & Artisans: Canadian Art: 1890-1918 Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2013
Hill, Kay. "Nova Scotia's Pioneer Potter: Alice Mary Hagen of Mahone Bay." Atlantic Advocate (Aug. 1959): 43-48
Home, Ruth M. "Pottery in Canada." Canadian Geographical Journal 28 (Feb. 1944): 65-77
Inness, Lorna. "Collectors treasure Alice Hagen's work." Chronicle-Herald (Halifax) 2 Nov. 1990: B5
Lovelace, Christine. "Digitization: The Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery CHIN project." Council of Nova Scotia Archives Newsletter 37 (Spring 2004): 5-6
MacDonald, Colin S. The Dictionary of Canadian Artists. (Volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker) Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2009.
MacKeeman, Karl. "Alice Hagen: Few Nova Scotians have been so influential." The 4th Estate (21 Jul. 1976)
Mayer, Carol E. The Potter's Art: Contributions to the Study of the Koerner Collection of European Ceramics. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology, 1997
McCormick, Heather. The Alice Hagen Collection. Halifax: Mount Saint Vincent University, 1994
McKendry, Blake. A to Z of Canadian Art: Artists and Art Terms. Kingston: B. McKendry, 1997
McLeod, Keith A. "The Splendid Gift." Antique Showcase 33.7 (Apr. 1998): 46-50
Moore, Marion. "Panoramic View of City Art Exhibition Feature." Mail-Star (Halifax) 22 Jul. 1960: 12
Moore, Marion. "Pottery Maker Goes On Display Work of 94-Year-Old Artist." Chronicle-Herald (Halifax) 14 Feb. 1966: 16
Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery. "Alice Egan Hagen, 1872-1972, Nova Scotia Woman." http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/CommunityMemories/AAOB/000a/Exhibits/English/index.htm Virtual Museum of Canada, 2003
Newlands, Anne. Canadian Art: From its Beginnings to 2000 Richmond Hill, Ontario: Firefly Books, 2000
Nova Scotia Society of Artists. Golden Jubilee Exhibition. Halifax: Saint Mary's University Art Gallery, 1972
O'Neill, Mora Dianne. Diamond Jubilee: Nova Scotia Society of Artists. Halifax: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, 1998
O'Neill, Mora Dianne. Nova Scotia Society of Artists: Exhibitions and Members 1912-1972. Halifax: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, 1997
O'Neill, Mora Dianne. The Artists' Halifax: Portraits of the Town and Harbour through 250 Years Selected from the collection of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Halifax: Formac, 2003
Petteys, Chris, et al. Dictionary of Women Artists: An International Dictionary of Women Artists Born Before 1900. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1985
Pierce, Gretchen. "At the Galleries: Outdoor sculptures natural setting." Mail-Star (Halifax) 30 Jul. 1976
Pierce, Gretchen. "The delicate, lost art of china painting." Chronicle-Herald (Halifax) 29 Jul. 1976
Pringle, G. "Potter of the Maritimes." Canadian Home Journal 39 (Jan. 1943): back cover
Settlers' Museum. Alice Hagen: Years in Mahone Bay, 1930-1972. Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia: Settlers' Museum, 1989
Sparling, Mary. Alice Hagen 1872-1972, Jul. 8 - Aug. 1, 1976. Halifax: Mount Saint Vincent University, 1976
Sparling, Mary. Women's Work: A Selection of work by 4 significant Nova Scotia artists. Halifax: Mount Saint Vincent University, 1981
Stacey, Robert. "Eighty: 1887-1967." Eighty/Twenty: 100 Years of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Halifax: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, 1988
Tippett, Maria. By a Lady. Toronto: Viking, 1992
Tyler, Chris. "Alice Hagen Symposium." NSDC Newsletter (Apr. 1982): 6-7
Tyler, Chris. "Alice Hagen: Pioneer Potter." Artisan (Winter 1982): 8-9
Weaver, Jim. "Nova Scotia's Year of Clay." Ceramics Monthly 45.3 (Mar. 1997): 55-59

Search by: