Helen Galloway McNicoll

“One of Canada’s foremost impressionist painters”

Helen McNicoll was born in Toronto in 1879. The following year she moved with her family to Montreal where her Father had a successful career with The Canadian Pacific Railway Company.

Helen became deaf at two years of age due to scarlet fever. She learned to lip-read however, and her family supported her artistic talent and her interest in art.

In 1899 she began her studies at the Art Association of Montreal under William Brymner. From 1902 to 1904, she studied life drawing and painting at the Slade School of Art, University of London. After a brief working stay in France, Helen returned to England and studied at St. Ives.

Beginning in 1906, McNicoll’s work was included in Canadian exhibitions of the Art Association of Montreal, the Royal Canadian Academy and elsewhere. In 1908, she won the AAM’s Jessie Down prize with W.H. Clapp. In 1913, examples of her work were included in the Royal Society of British Artists’ exhibition and she was elected to membership in that society the same year. In 1914, she won the Women’s Art Society Prize and was elected an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art. Her work was acclaimed as “a triumphant study in reflected light; pure painting.”

In 1926, McNicoll’s work was shown at the Art Gallery of Toronto’s inaugural exhibition along with renowned artists Tom Thomson, Cornelius Krieghoff and Paul Peel.

McNicoll continued to live in England until her death in 1915. She died at the age of thirty-six due to complications from diabetics.

Many notable Canadians including Toronto’s Eaton and Sarick families have collected her work.

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