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HAMILTON, Mary Riter

Teeswater, Ontario, 1867
Vancouver, British Columbia, 1954
Biography synopsis
Mary Riter Hamilton studied in Toronto with Mary Hiester Reid, George Reid and Wyly Grier. She married at eighteen, but her husband died in 1896 and she decided to become a professional painter. She traveled to Germany and studied with Franz Skarbina in Berlin, and in Italy, Holland and Paris where she studied portrait painting with J. Blanche and drawing with Mereon and Gervais at the Vittie Academy. She also studied privately with Castaluchi. Two of her works were shown at the Paris Salon in 1905. She continued to travel and study in Europe, spending one year in Winnipeg, and subsequent years in Florence, Berlin, Vienna, Paris and Holland. She returned to Canada in 1911 and showed 150 paintings in Toronto. At around the same time she did a number of portraits of Native Canadians which were later exhibited in Paris. She also painted scenes of the Rockies. In 1912 she painted a series of portraits of British Columbia's lieutenant governors which are still at Government House, Victoria. In 1919 she went to Europe to paint the battlefields of France and Belgium. She completed 227 canvases which were exhibited in the foyer of the Grand Opera House in Paris in 1922. She subsequently gave the paintings to the National Archives of Canada. She won the Palme Académique and was named Officier d'Académie of France in 1922. In 1925 she received a diploma and gold medal for her exhibit at the Paris Exposition Internationale. She settled in Victoria and painted many scenes and portraits until she lost her sight in 1948. There was an exhibition of her work at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1952 and a memorial exhibition in conjunction with the work of Sophie Deane-Drummond at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria in 1959.
Media used
Private study (under Mary Hiester Reid; George Reid; Wyly Grier; Franz Skarvina; Castaluchi)
Vittie Academy, Paris (under J. Blanche; Mereon; Gervais)
File & Archive locations
Library and Archives Canada / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, ON
Winnipeg Art Gallery, MA - Clara Lander Library
Art Gallery of Ontario - Edward P. Taylor Research Library and Archives
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts / Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, QC
Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Documentation Centre, QC
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives
Toronto Reference Library, ON
Vancouver Art Gallery, BC - Library
Alberta Culture and Community Spirit - Arts Branch

Writings about
Calgary Herald 24 Apr. 1922
In Aid of the Allied Somme Battlefield Memorial: Paintings by Mary Riter Hamilton, 1919-1920-1921. London, England (?): Surrey House, Marble Arch, 1923
Showing of Pictures by the World Famous Canadian Artist Mary Riter Hamilton at 4593 West Sixth Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. on Friday, June 25, 1948 Vancouver: ?, 1948
"$1,500 Painting Presented To City; Hangs in Library." News Chronicle (Port Arthur, Ontario) 9 Nov. 1954
"A Generous Gift to Canada." Echoes (Mar. 1928)
"A Successful Canadian Artist and Her Exhibition." Globe 23 Jan. 1911
"Another local show ..." Province (Vancouver) 10 Jun. 1933
"Art and Artists in Toronto City." Daily Star (Toronto) 20 Jan. 1912
"Art Exhibit Is Delayed." Calgary News Telegram 4 Dec. 1912
"Attractive Art Exhibition Opens: Work of Mrs. Hamilton and Her Pupils Is Now On Display." Vancouver Province 25 Jun. 1935
"Blind Artist's Rites Held Here." Vancouver Province 14 Apr. 1954
"Bygone Fame Reclaimed Here For Brilliant Woman Artist." Vancouver Daily Province 1 Mar. 1952
"Canada's First Woman Artist Laid At Rest." Province (Vancouver) 15 Apr. 1954
"Canadian Art." Victoria Colonist 3 Feb. 1924
"Canadian Artist Exhibits at Paris." Toronto Mail and Empire 17 Apr. 1922
"Canadian Artist Going to Europe." Victoria Paper 18 Mar. (?) 1919
"Canadian Artist Is Highly Praised." Ottawa Journal 12 Jun. 1922
"Canadian Artist's Exhibition." Star (Montreal) 14 Feb. 1912
"Canadian Artists in Paris." Saturday Night 21.9 (14 Dec. 1907): 5
"Canadian Comes Home With Pictures Hung in Parisian Salons." Herald (Montreal) 3 Feb. 1912
"Distinguished Canadian Artist." Edmonton Journal 5 Feb. 1912
"Dr. Tolmie Asked to Appeal at Ottawa." Victoria Colonist 17 Feb. 1924
"Exhibit at Art Gallery: Mrs Hamilton's Pictures Attracted a Good Deal of Attention." Gazette (Montreal) 8 Feb. 1912
"Exhibition Date." Gazette (Montreal) 5 Feb. 1912
"Exhibition Notes." Vancouver Art Gallery Bulletin Feb. 1952
"Exhibition Preview." Vancouver Daily Province 5 Mar. 1952
"Famed Artist Buried." Sun (Vancouver) 17 Apr. 1954
"Greatest Woman Painter Born in Culross Twp." Teeswater News 12 Jan. 1949
"Her Collection Enriches Ottawa Archieves [sic]" Calgary Herald 10 Mar. 1934
"I.O.D.E. To Hold Exhibition of Mrs. Hamilton's Pictures." Vancouver Province 1 Apr. 1920
"In Studio and Gallery." Daily Star (Toronto) 22 Nov. 1911
"Joint Sponsors for Exhibit." News Herald (Vancouver) 1 Feb. 1952
"Kaustic Komment: A Neglected Genius." Hush (Toronto) 15 Mar. 1952
"Le salon de peinture: La Princesse Patricia de Connaught expose ses oeuvres au Salon." Le Canada (Montreal) 16 Mar. 1927: 12
"Mary Riter Hamilton." Toronto Saturday Night (13 May 1922)
"Mary Riter Hamilton: An Artist Impressionist on the Battlefields of France." Gold Stripe 1 (1919): 11-12
"Mary Riter Hamilton: Canada's First Woman Artist." Calgary Herald 24 Apr. 1922
"Mrs. Hamilton's Pictures Please at Private View." Herald 9 Feb. 1912
"Mrs. Hamilton..." Winnipeg Tribune 14 Dec. 1906: 2
"Mrs. M.R. Hamilton..." Crag and Canyon (Banff) 7 Sept. 1912
"Mrs. Mary Riter Hamilton." The Week (Victoria) Ladies' Review supplement 6 Dec. 1913: 1
"Mrs. Mary Riter Hamilton..." Crag and Canyon (Banff) 6 Jul. 1912
"Nelson W.C.T.U. Meeting, Saturday Night, November 22nd." Western Woman's Weekly 2.52 (6 Dec. 1919)
"New Exhibit At Art Gallery." Vancouver Sun 4 Feb. 1952
"No Man's Land captured." Chronicle-Journal (Thunder Bay) 5 Oct. 2001
"Noted Painter's Last Wish Gives Port Arthur Picture." News-Chronicle (Port Arthur) 23 Nov. 1954
"Part of Series." Province (Vancouver) 22 Jan. 1949
"Pictures of Vimy Opening to Public." Victoria Colonist 2 May 1920
"Showing Paintings at Private View." Victoria Colonist 20 Apr. 1920
"The Art of Mrs. M. R. Hamilton as Revealed in Her Pictures." Star (Montreal) 3 Feb. 1912
"The Fine Arts." Star (Montreal) 10 Feb. 1912
"Une Artiste Canadienne." Le Canada 19 Feb. 1912
"Victoria Artist." Daily Colonist (Victoria) 24 Feb. 1952
"War Has Developed New Style in Art of Painting." Province (Vancouver) 10 Apr. 1920
"War Paintings Now On Exhibition Here." Victoria Times 11 May 1920
"Woman Artist's Work on View." News Herald (Vancouver) 22 Jan. 1949
"Women's Auxiliary." Vancouver Art Gallery Bulletin 19.8 (Apr. 1952)
"Works of Mary Riter Hamilton Will Be Seen." Star (Montreal) 29 Jan. 1912
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Mary Riter Hamilton 1873-1954. Victoria: Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, 1978
Baele, Nancy. "Lest we forget: Grief for victims of First World War shows through in restrained style of Mary Riter Hamilton." Ottawa Citizen 12 Apr. 1993
Berry, Virginia. Vistas of Promise: Manitoba 1874-1919. Winnipeg: Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1987
Bruce, J.E.M. "Mary Riter Hamilton." Gold Stripe 2 (May 1919): 22-23
Collins, John E. "Pictures from Paris." Canadian Courier 25 Nov. 1911: 16
Davis, Angela. "An Artist in No-Man's Land." Beaver (Oct-Nov. 1989): 6-16
Davis, Angela. "Mary Riter Hamilton: Manitoba Artist 1873-1954." Manitoba History (Spring 1986): 22-27
Deacon, Florence E. "The Art of Mary Riter Hamilton." Canadian Magazine (Oct. 1912): 557
Falla, Frederick G. "Mary Riter Hamilton, in an interview with Frederick G. Falla." McClure Newspaper Syndicate 10 Sept. 1922
Finlay, K.A. and Shea, T.. "A Woman's Place" Art and the Role of Women in the Cultural Formation of Victoria B.C. 1850s-1920s Victoria, B.C.: Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery, University of Victoria, 2004
Foster, Garland. "Coals to Newcastle: Are Another Canadian Product - Mary Riter Hamilton." Western Home Monthly 31 (May 1930): 33-49
Foster, Mrs. W. Garland. "Museum and Art Notes: 'Les Pauvres' and Its Artist." Art and Historical Society of Vancouver (Jun. 1929): 65-68
Gammel, I.. "The Memory of St Julien: Configuring Gas Warfare in Mary Riter Hamilton's Battlefield Art." Journal of War and Culture Studies 9.1 (Jan 2016): 20-41.
Gammel, Irene. I Can Only Paint: The Story of Battlefield Artist Mary Riter Hamilton Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2020
Gessell, Paul. "What did Mary Hamilton really see?" Ottawa Citizen 11 Nov. 1998
Hamelin, Christine. "Woman's paintings recorded the horror of First World War." Kingston Whig-Standard 12 Aug. 2000
Harris, Bess. "Exhibition Notes." Vancouver Art Gallery Bulletin Jan. 1949
Huneault, Kristina. I'm Not Myself at All: Women, Art, and Subjectivity in Canada Montreal; Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2018
Iavarone, Mike. "The Battlefield Art of Mary Riter Hamilton" [www.worldwar1.com/sfmrh.htm] 1996-2000
Lang, Naomi. "Artist Dorothy Willis Back from Gypsing over Europe." Vancouver Sun 26 Jan. 1952
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.
Nesbitt, James K. "Colonist's Art Review Made Emily Carr Angry." Daily Colonist (Victoria) 9 Jan. 1977
Page, Anne Mandely. Canada's First Professional Women Painters, 1890-1914: Their Reception in Canadian Writing on the Visual Arts. Montreal: Concordia University, 1991
Palette. "In the Realm of Art: Vimy Ridge Paintings Moving, Accomplished." Vancouver Province 22 Jan. 1949
Perry, Anne Anderson. "Artists and Their Doings: O Canada! What of Art?" Western Woman's Weekly 1 Feb. 1919: 4-5
Robson, Barbara. "Recognition long overdue." Winnipeg Free Press 10 Nov. 1988
Rutherford, Ruth. Town Topics (New York) 10 Dec. 1898
Taylor, E. A. "The American Colony of Artists in Paris." International Studio Aug. 1911
Thornton, Mildred Valley. "Gallery Opens Mary Hamilton Art Exhibit." Sun (Vancouver) 21 Jan. 1949
Tippett, Maria and Douglas Cole. From Desolation to Splendour: Changing Perceptions of the British Columbia Landscape Toronto: Clarke, Irwin and Company Ltd, 1977
Uhthoff, Ina D. D. "At the Art Gallery: Past Recalled In Collection By Portraitist." Times-Colonist (Victoria) 22 Nov. 1959
Vervoort, Pat. "Painting locked away." Lakehead Living 13 May 1987: 6
Williamson, Moncrieff. Through Canadian Eyes: Trends and Influences in Canadian Art: 1815-1965. Calgary: Glenbow-Alberta Institute, 1976
Williamson, Moncrieff. "Memorial Exhibitions Compare Artists' Work." Victoria Times 21 Nov. 1959
Winnipeg Art Gallery. The View From Here: Selections from the Canadian Historical Collection. Winnipeg: Winnipeg Art Gallery, 2000
Winnipeg Industrial Bureau. Exhibition of paintings, water-colors, pastels and drawings by Mary Riter Hamilton, on view from May 4th until May 18th, 1912. Winnipeg: Winnipeg Industrial Bureau, 1912
Woman's Canadian Club. Art Exhibition by Mary Riter Hamilton Under the Patronage of Woman's Canadian Club, Empress Hotel, March 12th to 19th from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Victoria: Woman's Canadian Club, ?
Young, Kathryn A. and Sarah M. McKinnon. No Man's Land: The Life and Art of Mary Riter Hamilton. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2017

Full text pdfs of exhibition reviews
Art Association of Montreal Annual Spring Exhibition: (Montreal, ) "Princess Patricia's Work Shown at Spring Exhibition of the Art Association."  Daily Witness (Montreal)  .  p.11.   Full-text pdf
Art Association of Montreal Annual Spring Exhibition: (Montreal, ) "Art Opening, a Social Event. A Princess Exhibits."  Gazette (Montreal)  .  p.4.   Full-text pdf
Art Association of Montreal Annual Spring Exhibition: (Montreal, ) "Art Show Looks as if Hanging Committee Slept."  Montreal Herald  .  p.1-2.   Full-text pdf
Art Association of Montreal Annual Spring Exhibition: (Montreal, ) "Pictures Shown at Spring Exhibition of the Art Gallery Reach a High Level."  Montreal Star  .  p.6.   Full-text pdf
Art Association of Montreal Annual Spring Exhibition: (Montreal, ) "Le salon de peinture. La Princesse Patricia de Connaught expose ses oeuvres au salon - les toiles sont plus nombreuses et plus soignées que par la passé - beaux portraits de Sir Wilfred Laurier et de l'Hon. M. Berthiaume."  Le Canada (Montréal)  .  p.12.   Full-text pdf
Art Association of Montreal Annual Spring Exhibition: (Montreal, ) Léon Lorrain.  "Le salon de printemps."  Le Devoir (Montréal)  .  p.1.   Full-text pdf

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