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1871 - 1945
Emily Carr was born in Victoria, British Columbia in 1871. She first studied art in San Francisco,
California and then in Europe, in London and Paris.
In 1927, the National Gallery of Canada organized a large exhibition of Canadian West Coast art and included 26
of Carr’s works. In Ottawa, she met members of the Group of Seven and was greatly inspired by them, particularly
Arthur Lismer and Lawren Harris. Following the exhibition, Carr returned to Victoria and resumed painting
with a new energy. She concentrated almost completely on the British Columbia costal shorelines and forests.
Emily Carr was a remarkable West Coast painter and is, perhaps, Canada’s best known woman artist.
In May 2002 Emily Carr’s painting War Canoes (Alert Bay) 1912 sold for $1,018.750. at Heffel’s Fine Art Auction
establishing the highest price of a Carr work in auction and the highest price for a Canadian woman artist.
CLICK HERE OR THE IMAGE TO VIEW EMILY CARR ARTWORK
Emily Carr was born and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. After the death of her parents at age 18 in 1890 and at her
friend's counsel, she moved to San Francisco to study art. In 1893 she returned to Victoria, establishing a studio in the family
barn where she painted and offered children's art classes. Four years later she travelled to England to enrich her studies,
where she spent time at the Westminster School of Art in London but left due to an illness. Searching for a healthier climate,
she proceeded to study at various studio schools in Cornwall, Bushey, Hertfordshire, San Francisco, and elsewhere.
She returned to British Columbia in 1905. In 1910 , she spent a year studying art at the Académie Colarossi in Paris
and elsewhere in France before moving back to British Columbia permanently in 1912.
She was most heavily influenced by the landscape and First Nations cultures of British Columbia and Alaska.
She was first inspired by the First Nations after a visit to a mission school beside the Nuu-chah-nulth community of
Ucluelet in 1899. Three years later, she was inspired by a visit to Skagway and began to paint the totem poles of the
coastal Kwakwaka'wakw, Haida, Tsimshian, Tlingit and other communities, in an attempt to record and learn from
as many as possible. In 1913 she was obliged by financial considerations to return permanently to Victoria after a few
years in Vancouver. Influenced by styles such as Post-impressionism and Fauvism, her work was alien to those around
her and remained unknown to and unrecognized by the greater art world for many years. For more than a decade
she worked as a potter, dog breeder and boarding house landlady, having given up on her artistic career.
In the 1920s she came into contact with members of the Group of Seven after being invited by Eric Brown,
director of the National Gallery of Canada, to participate in an exhibition titled Canadian West Coast Art, Native
and Modern. She traveled to Ontario for this show in 1927, where she met members of the Group, including Lawren
Harris, whose support was invaluable. She was invited to submit her works for inclusion in a Group of Seven exhibition,
the beginning of her long and valuable association with the Group. They named her 'The Mother of Modern Arts'
around five years later. Carr claimed that the Nuu-chah-nulth of Vancouver Island's west coast had nicknamed her
Klee Wyck, "the laughing one." She gave this name to a book about her experiences with the natives,
published in 1941. The book won the Governor General's Award that year.
In 1937 Carr was honoured with an exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario and in the following year she held a
successful show at the Vancouver Art Gallery. A series of heart attacks in 1937 left Carr bedridden for the rest
of her life. Unable to paint, Carr turned to writting for artistic expression. She is interred in the Ross
Bay Cemetery in Victoria, her gravestone inscription reads "Artist and Author / Lover of Nature".
Under Canada's copyright laws, Carr's works became public domain at the beginning
of 1996, 50 years after her death.
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