Artwork by Ethel Seath,  St. Sulpice Garden, 1930

Ethel Seath
St. Sulpice Garden, 1930

oil on board
signed lower right; titled on a label on the reverse
16 x 12 in ( 40.6 x 30.5 cm )

Auction Estimate: $60,000.00$40,000.00 - $60,000.00

Price Realized $156,000.00
Sale date: May 30th 2024

A.K. Prakash & Associates, Inc., Toronto (1993)
Masters Gallery, Calgary (2012)
Private Collection
"The Beaver Hall Group Retrospective Exhibition", Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal, 13-27 September, 1999, no. 22
A.K. Prakash, "Independent Spirit: Early Canadian Women Artists", Richmond, Hill, Ontario, 2008, reproduced pages 114, 135 and 326 as "Nuns, St. Sulpician Garden", 1930
Saint-Sulpice Seminary is located in Montreal and boasts the oldest religious building in the city, which was erected between 1684 and 1687. The grounds included a garden where priests, following a monastic tradition, grew fruits and vegetables. It is regarded as one of the first gardens of its kind in North America. The geometric design of the garden was borrowed from the French style of the Renaissance. The diagonal aisles are arranged around a central statue.

As a prominent figure in the Montreal art scene for over sixty years, Ethel Seath worked as an illustrator for Montreal newspapers and taught art at a private school for girls for over 45 years. In addition to her successful illustration career, she attended sketching classes and trips with William Brymner, Edmond Dyonnet and Maurice Cullen with the Art Association of Montreal. It was under the tutelage of William Brymner that the artist met fellow artists with whom she would form the notable Beaver Hall Group. The group was known for their equal inclusion of male and female artists and their contributions to modernism. In contrast to the Group of Seven, the Beaver Hall Group was predominantly interested in urban life as we see in "St. Sulpice Garden". The picture serves as a testament to the rich history of the city. The cloaked figures in the foreground remind us of the site’s function as a religious educational institution. Like Emily Carr’s depictions of missionary structures within the landscape, Seath reminds the viewer of society’s enduring footprint on the land and the complex histories of Canada’s development.

The repeating red and pink brushstrokes create a sense of unity and rhythm throughout the picture and the sinuous trees in the foreground anchor the elements of the picture while lending themselves to the movement of the work. We see the simplification of form and bold brushwork inspired by the work of the Impressionists. The volume of form that is characteristic of Seath’s work is on full display in this picture and demonstrates the artist’s desire to be freer in her artistic practice and move away from the more rigid constraints of her graphic art career.

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Ethel Seath
(1879 - 1963) Beaver Hall Group, Canadian Group of Painters