"[...] her works revealed flair, inventiveness, and a rich sense of colour and layering. Muntz lived and painted in Canada to the end of her life, exhibiting widely to considerable renown." Joan Murray, Impressions of Women and Childhood

Laura Adeline Muntz was born in Warwickshire, England, in 1860. Her family immigrated to Canada when Muntz was a child and settled on a farm in the Muskoka District of Ontario.

 

In her early twenties, Muntz earned a living as a schoolteacher in Hamilton, Ontario. At the age of twenty-three, with a desire to learn more about art, Muntz began to take painting lessons with William Charles Foster. She began taking formal classes at the Ontario School of Art in 1882, where she studied with Lucius Richard O’Brien and, later, with George Andrew Reid. In 1887, feeling inspired, Muntz left to study at the South Kensington School of Art, then returned to Canada to continue her apprenticeship with Reid. After being awarded a scholarship, Muntz departed for Paris in 1891, where she was able to travel and study for seven years - closely observing the work done by Michelangelo and the Impressionists, work that inspired her greatly. She studied and exhibited at the Académie Colarossi, resulting in some of her work being reproduced in French periodicals. Muntz received an honorable mention in the 1895 at Paris Salon. She won a bronze medal at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904 and a silver medal at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901. On her return to Canada in 1898, Muntz set up her own studio in Toronto where she began teaching art herself. She became an Associate of the Royal College of Art (ARCA). Later, Muntz moved to Montreal to continue her art career.

 

Laura Muntz Lyall was amongst the first female artist to receive recognition outside of Canada. During her career, she showed twenty-seven paintings with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts between 1893 and 1929. A painting by Muntz was purchased by the National Gallery of Canada in 1910. She is represented at the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, Vancouver Art Gallery and is in private collections in New York, Chicago and throughout Canada. Her work can also be found in the Parliament Buildings in Toronto and Victoria. She was elected as a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1895, only the eighth woman to receive this honour. Muntz was a member of the Ontario Society of Artists starting in 1891. She was the first woman appointed to its Executive Council in 1899, serving until 1903.

 

Following the death of her sister, in 1915, she returned to Toronto to care for her sister’s eleven children. She married her brother-in-law, Charles W.B. Lyall and set up a studio in the attic of their home and started signing her works with her married name. She continued to paint until her death in 1930.

 

Muntz died on December 9, 1930 at the age of 70. She is interred in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto.

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