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Nora Collyer (1898-1979)
Winter. Elm Avenue Lane, 1958
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Galerie Alan Klinkhoff - Nora Collyer (1898-1979)
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Galerie Alan Klinkhoff - Nora Collyer (1898-1979) Galerie Alan Klinkhoff - Nora Collyer (1898-1979) Galerie Alan Klinkhoff - Nora Collyer (1898-1979)
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NORA COLLYER (1898-1979)
Winter. Elm Avenue Lane, 1958
Oil on canvas 17" x 14"
Signed, l.l. `N Collyer`.
Inscribed by hand, signed, dated and titled:
`N.F.E. Collyer 1958`;
`Winter. Elm Avenue Lane`.
Private collection, Montreal;
Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, Montreal.
Montreal, Dominion Gallery, 1946.
Montreal, Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, 1964.
  More about this painting  
The largest body of Nora Collyer’s work is painted not far from her homes in Westmount and the Eastern Townships. This fine composition is in fact done looking out of the window from her home on Elm in Westmount, the very room in her house where she gave art classes. The perspective, from inside a window looking out is one not uncommon among members of The Beaver Hall Group and, when one considers that the subject matter she herself inscribed as "Winter, Elm Avenue Lane", it is not illogical.

Nora Collyer was the youngest member of the Beaver Hall Group sharing a studio with fellow artist and friend Anne Savage, for a period of three years from 1921. From 1925 to 1930, she was a teacher at Trafalgar School, a private school for girls (these days located just a block from Galerie Alan Klinkhoff up Simpson), leaving that job following the death of her mother to manage the household for her father and brother. She continued to teach, first at the Art Association of Montreal (the art school at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts) and then gave private lessons from her home on Elm Avenue in Westmount.

Nora Collyer exhibited her work at a number of the Canadian Group of Painters shows. She had her first solo exhibition at Dominion Gallery in 1946 and an exhibition at Walter Klinkhoff Gallery some years later (1964).
Nora Frances Elizabeth Collyer was born in Montreal on June 7, 1898. She attended Trafalgar School, a prestigious Montreal girls school and between 1913 and 1924 Collyer studied at the Art Association of Montreal under Maurice Cullen and William Brymner. She was the youngest of the ten women artists who today are commonly referred to as the Beaver Hall Group or sometimes as the Beaver Hall Hill Group or the Beaver Hall Women Painters (the others were Emily Coonan, Prudence Heward, Mabel Lockerby, Mabel May, Kathleen Morris, Lilias Torrance Newton, Sarah Robertson, Anne Savage, Ethel Seath). Nora Collyer moved into the now famous building at 305 Beaver Hall Hill in 1921 and for three yeas shared a studio with Anne Savage. She began exhibiting with the Royal Canadian Academy (R.C.A.) as early as 1922 and a few years later took a job as an art teacher at a private girls school in Montreal where she continued for five years. Barbara Meadowcroft in her excellent book on the Beaver Hall women (1) claims that after the death of her mother in 1930 she made a commitment to look after her father and the household, actually two properties, one in Westmount and the other in the Eastern Townships at Foster, which she continued to do dutifully until her father's passing in 1946. Shortly after, Nora Collyer relocated with her friend Margaret Reid first to an apartment and then to a duplex on Elm Avenue not too far from where she had been brought up. Here in the Elm Avenue home she gave art lessons privately to individuals and sometimes to very small groups. In 1950 she and Reid bought a property near Magog, Quebec and built Strawberry Hill. Her paintings were included in several exhibitions of the Canadian Group of Painters and one of her works was included in the exhibition of Canadian paintings in the Canadian Pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. In 1964, Galerie Walter Klinkhoff hosted a solo exhibition for Nora Collyer. It is the only solo exhibition of Nora Collyer paintings to be hosted by a commercial art gallery still actively specializing in Canadian art. Collyer died on June 11, 1979, only three weeks after Margaret Reid.

(1) "Painting Friends The Beaver Hall Women Painters", Barbara Meadowcroft, Vehicule Press, 1999.
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