Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday Inspiration: Laura Muntz Lyall

Laura Lyall Muntz, A Young Girl Holding Daffodils, (source)

Laura Muntz Lyall, Untitled, 1887, (source)

Laura Muntz Lyall, Interesting Story, 1898, (source)

I had honestly never heard about this woman before- though Interesting Story does seem familiar- it is just the sort of image that gets thrown around for advertising though- tugging at our heartstrings. It makes me think, of course, of my girls, and how I should be painting them, or doing something art related to capture these early glory years, (the photographs seem to sort of have that covered though right?- any kid whose mom has a blog is probably in the running for most documented childhood ever...). Anyhow, before blogging- the artistic childminders painted the little rugrats- and Laura Muntz Lyall was apparently not immune to the cuteness either.  She studied art in Paris at The Academie Colarossi (other Canadian graduates include Emily Carr and Prudence Heward), and painted extensively up until her sister's death- after which she spent most of her time looking after her sister's children, after which she fit in what painting she could, doing the stay at home/artist gig (if it was 2014 she would have had a blog).

Her paintings have a really lovely quality to them- loose, and natural, and almost Pre-Raphealite to me, with their loose patterns, and recurring flowers, models with flowing hair. The light in Interesting Story is really lovely, and it seems so ahead of it's time- much looser than other similar era paintings. I think though- the most interesting thing to me is that she was essentially a mother, who was educated and painted, and that didn't happen too often back then. Women generally gave up family life to paint- they had to choose one or the other- and Muntz Lyall did that- until her sister's death when she took over the responsibility of motherhood and simultaneously tried to 'have it all' much earlier than most women. She took nine years off from painting then began to work again, presumably the exception to the 'if you leave you'll never go back 'rule. Inspiring stuff.


  1. The light in the last image is dreamy, ethereal.

    I hadn't heard of this artist either.

    It is true and so rare that female painters were able to fit painting into their lives. That is why I loved the Mary Pratt exhibit. She really stated that she decided early on, when someone told her that she had to give up on the idea of painting since her husband was already a painter that it would be "impossible to have two painters living in the same house" that she decided she would basically make it her life's mission and devoted her life to her painting. Without that off-hand-comment she might not have given it any thought and might not have pursued her painting as she did.

    Thanks for sharing this lovely painter.


    1. Yes! I love Mary Pratt for that- she also said (basically) that you don't have to be miserable to be an artist- that you can actually be a well-adjusted person who enjoys their life! Such a novel concept!