Artwork by Kathleen Moir Morris,  The Fruit Shop, Ottawa

Kathleen Morris
The Fruit Shop, Ottawa

oil on canvas
signed lower right
18.25 x 24 ins ( 46.4 x 61 cms )

Auction Estimate: $80,000.00$60,000.00 - $80,000.00

Price Realized $62,150.00
Sale date: September 24th 2020

Acquired directly from the artist
Joyner Fine Art, auction, Toronto, November 22, 1988, Lot 118
The Collection of Senator E. Leo Kolber, Montreal
“Kathleen Morris, R.C.A.”, Loan Exhibition, Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal, June 1976, no. 18
“Kathleen Morris Exhibition”, The Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University, Kingston, September 1 - October 9, 1983, no. 16
Evelyn Walters, “The Women of Beaver Hall: Canadian Modernist Painters”, Toronto, 2005, pages 73-79
Kathleen Moir Morris studied under William Brymner and Maurice Cullen at the school of the Art Association of Montreal, and became a prominent member of the Beaver Hall Group in 1920. Working in oil, her subjects include landscape, genre, street and market scenes, as well as cabstands throughout Montreal and its environs. Morris was born with a physical disability, but refused to let it prevent her from painting outdoors in all seasons. After her father passed away in 1914, Morris moved to Ottawa with her mother a few years later, residing in a house on O’Connor Street from 1922 to 1929. A family friend, Eric Brown, who was also the director of the National Gallery at the time, saw to it that one of Morris’ works was purchased for the collection. The painter maintained an active presence in the Montreal art scene while living in Ottawa, continuing to participate in Beaver Hall exhibitions as well as those of the Canadian Group of Painters.

Author Evelyn Walters writes of this period in the artist’s life: “In Ottawa, she delighted in the vitality of the nearby market and painted it frequently.” Morris would have frequented the Byward Market, still a bustling and popular destination to this day. In “The Fruit Shop, Ottawa”, she depicts the sun shining on a fruit stand, busy with market goers in stylish 1920s attire. The crates of produce are colourful and warmly lit, as is the teal awning framing the upper border of the composition. Morris chose a bright and modern palette, synonymous with her body of work and that of the Beaver Hall Group. She painted from sketches, in which she simplified the forms and applied colour in bold, thick patches, visible in the faceless figures and abstracted fruit and vegetables.

Walters praises these notable and characteristic works by Morris, including “The Fruit Shop, Ottawa”, remarking that “the horses, old streetcars, market scenes, sleighs, and nuns are nostalgic reminders of a former time.” Morris returned to Montreal in 1929, where she continued to paint her preferred urban subjects. The same year, she became a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

This painting was in the collection of the esteemed Leo Kolber, former senator, lawyer, businessman and philanthropist. Mr. Kolber called Montreal home, and was an important benefactor for the city, actively supporting the Orchestre symphonique de Montreal, McGill University and the Jewish General Hospital, and for many years was the chief fundraiser for the Liberal Party of Canada.

Mr. Kolber studied law at McGill University, where he encountered Charles Bronfman, the two becoming close friends. It was through this connection that Mr. Kolber was hired by Sam Bronfman, head of the Bronfman business empire, to run CEMP Investments. Kolber was also an active participant on boards for numerous corporations, including the Cineplex Odeon Corporation, TD Bank and the Seagram Company. He established the Cadillac Fairview Corporation, one of North America’s largest real estate firms. In 1983, Mr. Kolber was named to the senate and served as the chairman to the Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. Mr. Kolber retired from the Senate in 2004. A proud and generous supporter of many cultural and civic organizations in Montreal, Mr. Kolber was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2007.

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Kathleen Moir Morris
(1893 - 1986) Beaver Hall Group, RCA

Kathleen Moir Morris was born in Montreal. She studied under William Brymner and Maurice Cullen at the school of the Art Association of Montreal (1910 - 1918). Working in oil, her subjects include landscape, genre, street scenes and buildings, with a special emphasis on horse drawn cabstands of old Montreal. Except for some years spent in Ottawa, she was active in Montreal until 1978 when she stopped painting. She died in 1986 in Rawdon, Quebec. She exhibited with the RCA from 1916 - 1958. Her work is in the collection of the AGGV, AGO, MMFA, and NGC.