Helen McNicoll: Life & Work

Helen McNicoll: Life & Work

by Sara Angel & Samantha Burton
  • biography
  • english-from-canada
  • feminism
  • illustrated-art

Born in Toronto and raised in Montreal, Helen McNicoll (1879–1915) achieved a great deal of international success in a brief career that lasted just over a decade.

Although deaf from the age of two, McNicoll did not let personal hardship deter her from a career in art. After training at the Art Association of Montreal, McNicoll moved to London, England, to pursue her passion as she travelled extensively through Europe.

McNicoll relied on lip-reading to navigate through her life, and her art took on the unique perspective of an observer who understood isolation. She quickly became renowned overseas and in Canada for her luminous canvases that engage with issues such as femininity and domesticity, rural labour, fashion, and tourism. McNicoll died in England in 1915 at the young age of 35.

Helen McNicoll: Life & Work explores the impressive and pioneering career of an artist who, until recently, has been relatively little known. Revered in her own day as technically advanced and “profoundly original,” at the time of her death McNicoll had exhibited over seventy works in exhibitions in Canada and England, some of which are published here for the first time.


Sara Angel, author

Sara Angel, PhD, is the Founder and Executive Director of the Art Canada Institute. For her doctoral studies she received a Trudeau Scholarship, the most prestigious award of its kind in Canada, given for innovative ideas that help solve issues of critical importance to Canadians. A recognized authority on visual culture, Dr. Angel has been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, the University of Toronto, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Israel Museum. One of Canada's most accomplished visual arts journalists, Dr. Angel has had an extensive career in publishing, including being a commentator for CBC television’s On the Arts and editor-in-chief of Chatelaine. She writes for publications including Maclean’s, the Walrus, and the Globe and Mail to make the world of art accessible to a broad public audience.

Samantha Burton, author

Samantha Burton is a lecturer in the Department of Art History at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where she held a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship from 2013 to 2015. She earned her PhD from McGill University in 2012, receiving the Arts Insights award for best dissertation in the humanities and the Canadian Studies Network national dissertation prize.

Rights Holder

Rights Holder: Art Canada Institute

email: info@aci-iac.ca

website: https://aci-iac.ca/

rights available: World

Additional Information

publication date: 03/23/2020

Original language of pub: English

Materials Available: finished book