Talk on woman who painted World War I battlefields

Mary Riter Hamilton painting, photo supplied

Mary Riter Hamilton painting, photo supplied

Imagine a woman  who travels to Europe to paint the battlefields of World War I. The extraordinary Western Canadian artist Mary Riter Hamilton did just that, and you can learn more about her in a new book, No Man’s Land: The Life and Art of Mary Riter Hamilton, published by University of Manitoba Press and written by historian Dr. Kathryn A. Young and art historian Dr. Sarah M. McKinnon.

No Mans Land Book cover

Book Cover

The authors of the book, Young and McKinnon, will be on campus on Wednesday, November 1 at 12:30 pm to present a talk entitled Mary Riter Hamilton (1868-1954): A Western Canadian Artist on the Battlefields of World  War I in conjunction with the launch of the new book. The talk will be held at the University of Winnipeg Archives,  5th Floor of the Library.

About Mary Riter Hamilton

What force of will and circumstance drove a woman with a burgeoning art career following years of study in European art schools from a comfortable life to one of hardship and loneliness in the battle zones of France and Belgium following the Great War?

For western Canadian artist Mary Riter Hamilton (1868–1954), art was her life’s passion. Her tale is one of tragedy and adventure, from homestead beginnings, to genteel drawing rooms in Winnipeg, Victoria, and Vancouver, to Berlin and Parisian art schools, to Vimy and Ypres, and finally to illness and poverty in old age. No Man’s Land is the first biographical study of Hamilton, whose work can be found in galleries and art museums throughout Canada.

Young and McKinnon’s meticulous research in unpublished private collections brings to light new correspondence between Hamilton and her friends, revealing the importance of female networks to an artist’s well-being. Her letters from abroad, in particular, bring a woman’s perspective into the immediate post-war period and give voice to trying conditions. Hamilton’s career is situated within the context of her peers Florence Carlyle, Emily Carr, and Sophie Pemberton, with whom she shared a Canadian and European experience.

About the Authors
 is a retired assistant professor of History at the University of Manitoba.

McKinnon is a former Vice-President, Academic at OCAD University, a former Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and a former faculty member and Curator at the University of Winnipeg. Currently, she is a consultant in higher education. 

The University of Winnipeg Bookstore will have copies of No Man’s Land available for purchase and for signing by the authors. Mary Riter Hamilton’s painting The Philosopher, part of the University of Winnipeg’s art collection, will be on display at the event.

For more information, visit Gallery 1C03.

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