Laura Muntz Lyall (1860 - 1930)
About the Artist:
LAURA MUNTZ LYALL was born in England and lived much of her childhood in Muskoka, Ontario but moved to Hamilton as a young lady. She took private art lessons from Hamilton's William Charles Forster. She studied art in Paris in the 1890's where she won many honours. On her return, she taught life classes at the Hamilton Art School for several years. Lyall moved from Hamilton to Toronto in the early 1900's. With the exception of several years spent in Montreal, she remained in Toronto until her death at age 70 in 1930. Laura Lyall painted prolifically throughout her life in oil and water colours. Canadian art historian, Paul Duval, noted that, with the exception of Horatio Walker, Lyall was the most expressive Canadian figure painter in water colour at the close of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.
About the Painting -
Writing in the May 8,1999 Hamilton Spectator review of this work, Regina Haggo had this to say: ..."Within the group, there is a kind of visual ranking. Because the mother and baby are painted in the brightest colours, they leap out at the viewer, so this is basically a mother and child motif. The two extra figures are rendered in darker shades, so we see them after the central pair. The addition of the two children is compositionally satisfying: the four heads are linked by an invisible circle. ...Around 200 years ago, the mother-and-child image became very popular as an expression of the new idea that the family was a source of intimacy and happiness. In keeping with this view, the images were idealized: mothers and their babies were beautiful and happy beings...Images of Queen Victoria with any combination of her nine children show how idealized Maternity became in the 19th century..."
(Source: Regina Haggo, "Motherly love can look sweeter than apple pie," The Hamilton Spectator, May, 8, 1999)