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Helen McNicoll
Life & Work
1st edition
By (author): Samantha Burton Introduction by: Sara Angel
9781487102111 Hardcover English ART / Canadian Apr 27, 2020
$40.00 CAD
Forthcoming 8.4 x 11.25 x 0.6 in | 870 gr 128 pages Art Canada Institute The Canadian Art Library

Born in Toronto and raised in Montreal, Helen McNicoll (1879–1915) achieved a great deal of international success in a brief career that lasted just over a decade. Although deaf from the age of two, McNicoll did not let personal hardship deter her from a career in art.

After training at the Art Association of Montreal, McNicoll moved to London, England, to pursue her passion as she travelled extensively through Europe. McNicoll relied on lip-reading to navigate through her life, and her art took on the unique perspective of an observer who understood isolation. She quickly became renowned overseas and in Canada for her luminous canvases that engage with issues such as femininity and domesticity, rural labour, fashion, and tourism. Elected to the Royal Society of British Artists in 1913 and the Royal Canadian Academy in 1914, McNicoll died in England in 1915 at the young age of 35.

Helen McNicoll: Life & Work explores the impressive and pioneering career of an artist who, until recently, has been relatively little known. Revered in her own day as technically advanced and "profoundly original," at the time of her death McNicoll had exhibited over seventy works in exhibitions in Canada and England, some of which are published here for the first time.


Samantha Burton is a lecturer in the Department of Art History at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where she held a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship from 2013 to 2015. She earned her PhD from McGill University in 2012, receiving the Arts Insights award for best dissertation in the humanities and the Canadian Studies Network national dissertation prize.


Key Selling Points:

  • Aligns with a major show on Canadian Impressionism at the National Gallery of Canada in fall 2020
  • The only book on one of Canada’s most important female artists and Impressionists
  • Artist beloved for her idyllic representations of rural life in Canada, modern women, and the innocence of childhood
  • McNicoll’s works are well represented in galleries across the country, particularly in Ontario and Montreal
  • McNicoll’s achievements are also much celebrated by the deaf community. McNicoll was deaf from the age of two, and her paintings of introspective women are often attributed to the distanced way that she herself interacted with the world.
  • Includes a “Where to See” section that directs readers to the public institutions that hold the artworks illustrated in the book. It also provides the location and contact information for each
  • Includes a glossary of important artistic terms that occur throughout the book, including people, artistic techniques, materials, and institutions
  • Part of the Canadian Art Library Series, the only fully illustrated series on Canadian artists
  • The Canadian Art Library Series makes Canadian art history a contemporary conversation with its accessible, beautiful, and informative books on individual artists. The series highlights the diversity of artists, techniques, and styles in Canadian art and aims to make lesser-known artists household names.
  • The website of the Art Canada Institute is visited by just under a million readers each year. The ACI site engages academics and art lovers alike. It is the go-to resource on Canadian art history.


For more information contact
[email protected]
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