Maud Lewis, Untitled (Black Cat with Tulips and Apple Blossoms), c. 1962, Private Collection - Nova Scotia, © Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

Maud Lewis

Exhibition
Overview

Developed and Toured by The McMichael Canadian Art Collection

Curated by Sarah Milroy

One of Canada’s most beloved folk artists, Maud Lewis (1903 – 1970) was famous in her lifetime for her brightly coloured and endearing paintings of rural Nova Scotia. Working from her cabin on the side of the highway in Marshalltown, in Digby County, she produced hundreds of small works that captured aspects of country life that were rapidly changing.

This show highlights Maud Lewis’s achievements, looking carefully at her serial repetition of images and motifs across her career. From her black cats and kittens, to her cart horses and oxen hauling logs, to her quayside scenes of ships in port and the Maritime landscape in all seasons, Maud Lewis made paintings that delight in their optimism and buoyant vitality.

This retrospective of 140 paintings highlights Lewis’ mastery of colour, endless compositional variety and exuberant vernacular style and also mark her as one of Canada’s most formally inventive folk artists. From amusing combinations of cats and kittens, to rustic images of horse drawn carts and oxen, to breezy scenes of ships in the harbour, Lewis’s work appeals to audiences nostalgic for cheerful depictions of rural life in Atlantic Canada.

While she has had a dedicated and significant following for decades, Lewis’s work has recently gathered new fans in droves following the critical and popular acclaim of the 2016 film Maudie starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke.

Maud Lewis, Everett Plowing, 1960s, Collection of CFFI Ventures Inc. as collected by John Risley, © Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

The story of Maud Lewis’ difficult life has dominated the discussion of her art: her triumph over her physical disabilities and poverty, the harsh treatment she received at the hands of her family, and her alliance by chance with her husband Everett Lewis, who enabled her successful painting career over many decades. This exhibition focuses on Maud Lewis as an accomplished artist with a unique aesthetic and enduring influence.

The exhibition is made possible through loans from leading Nova Scotian private collections, and features many works never before seen in public museums.

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