Artwork by Laura Adeline Lyall Muntz,  The Handmaiden

Laura M. Lyall
The Handmaiden

signed and dated 1900 lower left
19.5 x 10.5 ins ( 49.5 x 26.7 cms ) ( sheet )

Auction Estimate: $5,000.00$3,000.00 - $5,000.00

Price Realized $2,596.00
Sale date: September 24th 2020

Private Collection, Ontario
Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, Twenty-First Annual Exhibition, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, February 15, 1900, no. 152
Women’s Art Association of Canada, Twelfth Annual Exhibition, Toronto, February 22 - March 8, 1900, no. 68
Evelyn de R. McMann, Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, Exhibition and Members, 1880-1979, Canada, 1981, listed page 298
Joan Murray, “Laura Muntz Lyall: Impressions of Women and Childhood”, Montreal/Kingston, 2012, page 28 & page 144 (listed)
Laura Muntz was first exposed to the tenets of Impressionism while undertaking artistic training in Paris from 1891-1898. She then adopted the use of light and open, fluid brushwork in her own compositions. The rich tones of Muntz’s swift brushwork in “Girl with Blue Bowl” creates a sensation of gentleness and warmth, evoking the impression that a single moment has been captured, while emphasizing the personality of this young girl. Muntz was genuinely interested in the aesthetic representation of children and had a kinship with her young subjects. As Joan Murray remarks, “With children, she was always at ease. Meeting them, she immediately won their affection or adoration… She calmed some of those who sat for painting sessions by letting them join in the process.” Although sadly childless herself, Muntz lived a life surrounded by children. She was a schoolteacher upon moving to Canada, and later became the caregiver of her deceased sister’s eleven children. Muntz’s depiction of domestic scenes not only reveal a consistent study of her most treasured subjects, women and children, but illustrate the female experience of Canada in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

We extend our thanks to Joan Murray, Canadian art historian, for assisting with the research related to this artwork.

Share this item with your friends

Laura Adeline Lyall Muntz
(1860 - 1930) OSA, ARCA

Born at Radford, Warwickshire, England, the daughter of Eugene Gustavus Muntz, she came to Canada as a child with her family and they settled on a farm in the backwoods of the Muskoka District. She didn't begin formal art training until the age of twenty-three. She became a school teacher in Hamilton, Ontario, and in her spare hours took art classes.

With money saved from her teaching job she studies for a short time at the South Kensington School of Art, England about 1887. She returned to Canada and spent the next seven years earning money for study in Paris. In Paris, she studied at the Academie Colorossi under Joseph Le Blanc and others and she received Honourable Mention at the Paris Salon in 1895. She also travelled in Holland and Italy and at the end of seven years returned to Toronto and opened a studio. She was elected an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1895. She left Toronto and resided in Montreal where she continued to paint. Her canvas “A Daffodil” (a portrait of a girl holding a daffodil) was purchased by the National Gallery of Canada in 1910.

In 1915 she married Charles WB Lyall and returned to Toronto. She began signing her canvases Laura Muntz Lyall and even applied her signature to works she had done earlier so that each signature appeared on the canvas in opposite corners. For a period, her married life occupied most of her time and her painting activities almost ceased. Mention of her return to painting was recorded in the Toronto “Sunday World” by Irene Hare as follows, “Miss Lyall was one of our most indefatigable painters before the urge of other domestic duties took so much of her time that her painting was, to a certain extent, neglected. But her great number of admirers are delighted that she has again taken up her brush in earnest, and is very busy indeed at her 'attic' studio at her home. She has three large and very lovely pictures in process. All have little ones for their subject. One is s two beautiful children gambolling in a wood. The figures seem to melt in a hazy atmosphere of bronze and green at the same time imaginative and compelling. Two other small nude figures are disporting themselves along the sea-shore, in a glow of light and colour, the soft blues of the back-ground being particularly suitable for the fairy-like forms. In another still, the mother forms the keynote of the picture, with three beautiful child figures grouped about her....She is an enthusiastic painter. 'My hobbies' she will laughingly say, 'are only two-- painting and children. I don't know which I am fondest of.'”

She passed away in Toronto at the age of 70 and was survived by her husband, and a brother GH Muntz. It is not certain is there were other relatives. She is represented in the following collections: Art Gallery of Ontario; Parliament Buildings, Victoria, BC; Vancouver Art Gallery; National Gallery of Canada, and elsewhere including many private collections.

Source: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume I: A-F", compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1977