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Moodie Page 37

Great Canadian Art & Artists

Susanna Moodie (1803-1885)

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure An extremely rare treasure recently turned up in Toronto, displaying another side of Great Canadian writer Susanna Moodie, which few Canadians - even those who read her books - are aware of: her immense talent for painting.


This should not be surprising. In the 19th century literate women, of the pretending classes in Britain and Canada, were expected to develop a talent for painting, as were their male counterparts, especially those in the military professions.

In fact probably Canada's most famous and most beloved paintings, of the 19th century, were the fabulous and huge pictures of voyageur canoes by Frances Ann Hopkins.)

Goldfinches, below, is another watercolour of a number in the National Archives which Susanna painted in the period.

Below with husband Dunbar on the porch of their Belleville, Ontario home. Beside her is her daughter Agnes Fitzgibbon Chamberlin who inherited her mother's talent for painting.


Ladyslippers, Susanna Moodie, 1874
Orig. wc on board - Size - 30 x 38 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
Signed - "Susanna Moodie, Lakefield, North Douro, 1874"
Go to Susanna's House

In 1868, Susanna's sister, Catherine Parr Traill, had published Canadian Wild Flowers, which is probably Canada's first handbook of plants designed for the general public - a Peterson's Guide of the time. She had written it earlier but failed to find a publisher because it lacked illustrations.

Someone of talent was closer than she knew, her nice, and Susanna's own daughter, Agnes Fitzgibbon Chamberlin.

Showing off a sensibility tutored by her mother Susanna, Agnes produced, and hand coloured, the plates for the volume, which became, some claim, Canada's first coffee table book.

It went through several editions, including one for sale in the United States.

Go to Catherine's House
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