MARY HEISTER REID, O.S.A., A.R.C.A.
THE EDGE OF THE GARDEN
oil on canvas
16 ins x 20 ins; 40 cms x 50 cms
Painted circa 1905.
Mary Heister Reid was an adherent of the most progressive art of the early twentieth-century in Canada, a convergence of styles known as tonalism, defined as interpreting specific themes in limited but luscious colour scales and employing delicate effects of light to create vaguely suggestive moods.She intended her muted colour harmonies, and soft painterly application to awaken feeling, often an evocation of peace, or perhaps, a nostalgia for quiet places. The effect of her work, as with the landscape painter Archibald Browne, was to create an abstract emblem of contemplation in calming tones, a "quiet harmony," as her retrospective in 2000 was titled. This landscape, with its autumn tones and greyed effects, is poetically haunting. Reid would have embraced the subject for its atmospheric effect, especially the hazy light. She would have relished a subject that could be painted to look at the same time recognizable and indistinct.
Coming from the artist’s studio, “The Edge of the Garden” would have been exhibited in Reid's 1922 memorial exhibition at the Art Gallery of Toronto, possibly as “The Edge of the Field” (no.190) or perhaps as “Autumn Tints” (no.205).
We would like to thank art historian, Joan Murray, for contributing the foregoing essay.
Brian Foss and Janice Anderson, “Quiet Harmony: The Art of Mary Heister Reid”, The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 2000, page 94,
The Studio of the Artist, Toronto.
Private Collection, Ontario.
Memorial Exhibition of Paintings by M.H. Reid, The Art Gallery of
Toronto, Toronto, 1922.
Quiet Harmony: The Art of Mary Heister Reid, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, November 1, 2000-February 4, 2001, no.25.
Department: Canadian Fine Art