Women in Art

March 06 — 11, 2021
Auction begins to close at 2 pm ET

Online Auction
LOT 38

Lot 38

HELEN GALLOWAY MCNICOLL, R.C.A. (1879-1915), CANADIAN

HELEN GALLOWAY MCNICOLL, R.C.A. (1879-1915), CANADIAN
Lot 38 Details
HELEN GALLOWAY MCNICOLL, R.C.A. (1879-1915), CANADIAN

THE ORCHARD AT ELMHURST DAIRY, MONTREAL, C.1910

oil on canvas
inscribed "Painting by Miss Helen G. McNicoll, 1879-1915" to frame, and stamped with the artist's studio stamp #32 on the canvas and stretcher
20 ins x 24.25 ins; 50.8 cms x 61.6 cms

Estimate $40,000-$60,000

Realised: $72,000
Price Includes Buyer's Premium ?

Lot Report

Additional Images
HELEN GALLOWAY MCNICOLL, R.C.A. (1879-1915), CANADIAN
  • HELEN GALLOWAY MCNICOLL, R.C.A. (1879-1915), CANADIAN
  • HELEN GALLOWAY MCNICOLL, R.C.A. (1879-1915), CANADIAN
Provenance:

A gift from the Artist to Mrs. T.A. Trenholme
By descent to Private Collection, Quebec

Literature:

Memorial Exhibition of Paintings by the Late Helen G. McNicoll, RBA, ARCA, Art Association of Montreal, 1925, listed p. 5
Paul Duval, Canadian Impressionism, 1990, p. 92
Natalie Luckyj, Helen McNicoll: A Canadian Impressionist, Art Gallery of Ontario, 1999, for a similar circa 1908 oil entitled A Wayside Farm, p. 35.

Exhibited:

Art Association of Montreal, Memorial Exhibition of Paintings by the Late Helen G. McNicoll, RBA, ARCA, November 7 - December 6, 1925, catalogue #32

Note:

A gift from the artist to Mrs. Trenholme, a close friend of the McNicoll family, this painting depicts the orchard and barns of the Elmhurst Dairy Farm. Mrs. Trenholme’s husband, Thomas Anderson, was the founder of this Montreal-area dairy, located in what is now the city’s Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood. Thomas Trenholme took great care and pride with his herd—the business stayed within the Trenholme family for just shy of 100 years, and was known for producing high-quality milk as well as for an iconic neighbourhood ice cream parlour. Elmhurst Dairy was sold to Parmalat in 1970.

Like the dairy farm itself, the painting stayed in the Trenholme family for generations. Along with this excellent provenance, the painting was included in a 1925 memorial exhibition for Helen McNicoll organized by the Art Association of Montreal and is included in the corresponding literature. Another charming touch is an accompanying beachside photo of the McNicoll and Trenholme families.

Art historian Paul Duval called McNicoll “possibly [Canada’s] best Impressionist painter.”1 Indeed, railway pioneer William Van Horne acquired one of McNicoll’s works in 1909, positioning it next to paintings by Auguste Renoir, Mary Cassatt and other European Impressionists in his collection. McNicoll’s work was well received in her lifetime—despite Impressionism never gaining much traction in Canada—but faded from view after her death. Samantha Burton suggests that this was perhaps due to the dominance of the Group of Seven and the quest for a more “Canadian” school of painting, rather than a style that was seen as imported and foreign.2 A major exhibition of her work in 1999 at the Art Gallery of Ontario helped introduce McNicoll to wider audiences and reposition her as one of Canada’s foremost artists.

True to the roots of Impressionism, McNicoll was fascinated by the transient nature of light and colour, well evidenced in this painting. While McNicoll’s brushstrokes conjure up a strong sense of movement—the grass in particular seems positively effervescent—the overall composition is restful and calm. Her use of darker tones to evoke the lengthening shadows on the field is particularly poignant, transporting the viewer to a fleeting summer’s day in a friend’s orchard.

1https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/art-and-architecture/article-influential-art-writer-paul-duval-championed-lawren-harris/
2https://aci-iac.ca/art-books/helen-mcnicoll/significance-and-critical-issues/#a-legacy-forgotten

CONDITION DETAILS

For condition information please contact the specialist.

LOT 38
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About Condition Ratings

  • 5 Stars: Excellent - No discernable damage, flaws or imperfections
  • 4 Stars: Very Good - Minor flaws or imperfections visible only under close inspection using specialised instruments or black light
  • 3 Stars: Good - Minor flaws visible upon inspection under standard lighting
  • 2 Stars: Fair - Exhibits flaws or damage that may draw the eye under standard lighting
  • 1 Star: Poor - Flaws or damage immediately apparent under standard lighting (examples: missing components, rips, broken glass, damaged surfaces, etc.)

Note: Condition ratings and condition details are the subjective opinions of our specialists and should be used as a guide only. Waddington’s uses due care when preparing condition details, however, our staff are not professional restorers or conservators. Condition details and reports are not warranties and each lot is sold “as is” in accordance with the buyer’s terms and conditions of sale. In all cases the prospective purchaser is responsible for inspecting the property themselves prior to placing a bid.