Artwork by Nora Frances Elisabeth Collyer,  Looking Towards Murray Bay from Cap à l’Aigle Hill Top (Chickens)

Nora Collyer
Looking Towards Murray Bay from Cap à l’Aigle Hill Top (Chickens)

oil on board
signed lower right; signed, titled and dated 1964 on the reverse
12 x 14 ins ( 30.5 x 35.6 cms )

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Private Collection, Calgary
Evelyn Walters, “The Women of Beaver Hall: Canadian Modernist Painters”, Toronto, 2005, pages 21 and 23
Nora Collyer was based in Montreal, but also spent time in Europe, Bermuda, Nova Scotia, and the Lower St. Lawrence. This painting features Cap à l'Aigle, Quebec, a quiet retreat located approximately four hours northeast of Montreal.

In this farm scene, half a dozen spirited chickens roam freely around the base of an empty hay cart. The sun's warmth washes over the scene and, typical of the artist's style, “ remarkable for its shapes, rich colour, and soft rhythms.” The mountains in the background complete the idyllic rural scene.

In the same year that “Looking Towards Murray Bay” was painted, Collyer had a solo exhibition at the Walter Klinkhoff Gallery in Montreal. She was a member of the Beaver Hall Group and received an excellent education at Trafalgar School and the Art Association of Montreal, from which she won several scholarships.

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Nora Frances Elisabeth Collyer
(1898 - 1979) Beaver Hall Group

Nora Collyer was born in Montreal. She studied at the Art Association of Montreal, one of the few art institutions that admitted female students at the time. The school was directed by RCA president, William Brymner. At the AAM (which later became the Montreal Museum of Fine Art), she received professional instruction from Brymner and landscape artist, Maurice Cullen. In 1921 she joined fellow AAM graduates at their studio at 305 Beaver Hill Hall. This association of artists called themselves the Beaver Hall Group. The three story house offered the artists inexpensive studio space and A large room on the ground floor, which served as their exhibition gallery. Nora shared a studio in fellow AAM colleague, Anne Savage. The group was connected with the Group of Seven through A.Y.Jackson, who was a member of both groups and they were invited to exhibit together. The group had disbanded after only two years, but the women in the group continued to associate together.

In the years that followed, Nora taught drawing at Trafalgar School and at the AAM with Sarah Robertson. She participated in the Spring Exhibitions of the AAM from 1919 to 1955. Her choice of subject matter included portraiture, still lifes and landscapes portrayed in different seasons of the year. She also exhibited with the RCA from 1922 to 1942 and with the Canadian Group of Painters. She held solo exhibitions at the Dominion Gallery (1946) and at the Walter Klinkhoff Gallery (1964). Nora Collyer was a member of the Federation of Canadian Artists. The women of the Beaver Hall Group were honoured with an exhibition of their work at the National Gallery of Canada in 1967. Nora Collyer died in Montreal at the age of 81.

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Vol.1, Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks, 1997
Painting Friends, The Beaver Hall Women Painters, Barbara Meadowcroft, Véhicule Press, 1999