H. Mabel May, A.R.C.A. (1877-1971)

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Vivacious and energetic, "Henry" was the fifth in a family of ten and "a source of strength for the whole family".  She postponed her art education until her mid-twenties in order to be able to care for her younger siblings.  May was among the first to enroll in the Art Association of Montreal in 1902 and traveled to Europe with Emily Coonan, where they visited galleries and painted.  Upon her return to Montreal, she continued to live with her family at 434 Elm Avenue, set up a studio at 745 Ste. Catherine Street West, and spent her summers in Hudson, Quebec at the family cottage.

 

Anne Savage recalled:  "She was a brilliant figure at the gallery.  She painted with such vigour and strength - gay, rhythmic colour using the impressionists' technique of scintillating colour.  She spent some time in France, came back radiant - she loved life - painted in the landscapes of the eastern Townships where she built up her singing happy pictures".

 

In 1920, together with Randolph Hewton, Edwin Holgate and Lilias Torrance Newton, Henrietta founded the Beaver Hall Group.  Her earlier paintings such as "Yacht Racing" and "The Three Sisters" show the influences of Impressionism.  After 1920, her landscapes showed the undeniable influence of the Group of Seven.  Certainly in her painting "Melting Snow" we can see the style of Lawren Harris and their shared view of the landscape in Canada.  Her powerful originality, strong talent for colour and her craftsmanship were highly praised in La Presse.  Her mature works became more linear, rhythmic and simplified in colour.  Henrietta avoided strong darks like black and red because, in her beliefs, they were deemed to have a negative effect.

 

The Depression brought the May family financial problems and Henrietta began teaching to support herself.  She found tenure at Elmwood School in Ottawa for several years and returned to Montreal in 1948 where she continued to teach privately until 1950 when she moved to Vancouver to be with her sisters.  Henrietta died in Vancouver at the age of ninety four.

 

 

 

Source: "Groupe Beaver Hall" (2007) catalogue for the exhibition of works by the Beaver Hall Women, presented at Galerie Walter Klinkhoff and Bishop's University.  Text by Mary Trudel.

 

© Copyright Mary Trudel and Galerie Walter Klinkhoff Inc.

 

 

Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal

H. Mabel May, A.R.C.A. (1877-1971)

"Country Houses in Summer"

Oil on panel 10.1/4" x 14"  (SOLD)

Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal

H. Mabel May, A.R.C.A. (1877-1971)

"Summer Landscape"

Oil on panel 8.1/2" x 10.1/2"  (SOLD)