NORA FRANCES ELISABETH COLLYER
ALBERTA, SOLD TOGETHER WITH TWO DRAWINGS: ST. PETER’S CHURCH AND BERMUDA STREET SCENE
oil on canvas board; pen and ink
the oil painting and both drawings signed with initials, St. Peter’s Church inscribed “St. George-Bermuda” and Bermuda Street Scene inscribed “Bermuda”; the oil painting also signed and titled on the reverse
24 ins x 20 ins; 61 cms x 50.8 cms; 6.75 ins x 6.75 ins; 17.1 cms x 17.1 cms; 6.75 ins x 6.75 ins; 17.1 cms x 17.1 cms
Nora Collyer is known for her rich landscapes of rural Quebec (see lots 6 and 7), however, Esther Trépanier notes that “Portayal of the human figure in a landscape setting was another characteristic feature of the works of several Montreal artists pursuing a modern practice during the 1920s.” Typically the three dimensional figure dominated the composition and was positioned against a flattened background. While the landscape was not always linked to the sitter – often the relationship was more formal than personal- in this case the choice of a landmark so immediately identifiable with Bermuda is not arbitrary. While we have not been able to identify Alberta, her authoritative almost regal pose suggests she was linked to the church in a leadership capacity. There is a formal connection, too. The pinks, blues and creams of Alberta’s scarf are repeated in the church, and the fluffy foliage of the trees is echoed in her coiffure.
St. Peter’s Church is the oldest standing church in Bermuda, dating back to 1612 when it was built to establish a community in the newly discovered parish of St. George. Intentionally planting a Christian church in the middle of the “new world,” the church marked the beginning of Christian worship in the country of Bermuda.
Barbara Meadowcroft, Painting Friends: The Beaver Hall Women Painters, Véhicule Press, Montreal, 1999, page 104 for a photograph of Nora Collyer and Sarah Robertson on a Bermuda cruise circa 1929, reproduced.
“The Beaver Hall Group: A Montreal Modernity” by Esther Trépanier in The Beaver Hall Group: 1920s Modernism in Montreal, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Black Dog Publishing, Montreal/London, 2015, page 226.
Gift of the artist
By descent through the artist’s family
Group Show of Women Painters, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, 1950, no. 11 for Alberta.