ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Mary Cassatt was born in Pittsburgh in 1844 to a wealthy family. Following training at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, she relocated to Paris to further her studies. Cassatt travelled briefly to Italy, Spain, Belgium and Holland before settling permanently in Paris, where she was often joined by members of her family. She was the only North American artist to exhibit with the French Impressionists, showing in four of their eight official exhibitions. Cassatt became known for her nuanced portrayals of modern women characterized by vigorous brushwork. She worked alongside dealers and prominent art collectors, advocating in favour of modern art purchases that would later form major American collections. Despite her success, and the important role she played as an art advisor, her work is vastly under represented in Canada, as no Canadian museum owns a painting by Cassatt.
Born in Toronto in 1879, Helen McNicoll became Deaf at the age of two due to scarlet fever. Her affluent family moved to Montreal when she was a young child, and she studied at the Art Association of Montreal before leaving permanently for Europe, continuing her training at the Slade School of Art in London and the Cornish School of Landscape, Figure, and Sea Painting at St. Ives. McNicoll’s travels throughout the artist colonies of England and France were interspersed with return trips to Canada to visit family. She constructed her tour de force Impressionist paintings of women and children through vivid strokes of paint in vibrant colours. She was elected an associate member of the Royal Society of British Artists in 1913 and the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1914, signaling the recognition she earned both abroad and at home in her lifetime. Equally adept at depicting landscapes, genre scenes and figures, McNicoll’s paintings remain some of the greatest examples of Impressionism in Canada.