BlogNovember 9, 2018


We remember our friend, Molly Lamb Bobak, visiting us in Montreal on a dreary November 11 in 1983. Our original family gallery, Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, was located immediately across the street from The United Services Club, founded in 1922 by veterans from the Great War (the doorway to the right) where the Remembrance Day parade, coming up from Dominion Square, ended with a bypass and official salute from a veteran dignitary stationed outside the Club. Molly, an official military artist during World War II, went out on the steps of the gallery, pencil and paper in hand, somewhat teary-eyed watching the aging veterans march alongside The Royal Highlanders, pipers, cavalry, and troops from various regiments. She made countless drawings while I took photos to supplement her notes. Battalions of The Royal Highlanders fought at both Vimy and Flanders in the Great War.


The Vancouver-born Molly Lamb Bobak (1920-2014) was the first female Canadian war artist.  In 1942, she joined the Canadian Women’s Army Corps and was eventually “sent overseas to London where she depicted female military training as well as dynamic scenes of marches and parades — subject matter for which she would later be well known” [1].


After being made lieutenant on May 19, 1944, five days later, Molly wrote in her journal, “LAMB’S FATE REVEALED! 2ND LIEUTENANT REELS INTO STREET! TO BE FIRST WOMAN WAR ARTIST!” [2]. Molly’s war drawings and journal were published in 1992 in Double Duty: Sketches and Diaries of Molly Lamb Bobak Canadian War Artist edited by Carolyn Gossage.

Today, the Art Canada Institute (ACI) released a free online publication by Michelle Gewurtz, titled Molly Lamb Bobak: Life & Work. My sons, Craig and Jonathan, attended the event Molly Lamb Bobak & Canadian Women War Artists in Ottawa last month and were most impressed with the insightful conversation between the ACI's Sara Angel, Ottawa Art Gallery curator and ACI author Michelle Gewurtz, and Canadian War Art historian Laura Brandon.  We congratulate the team of the Art Canada Institute on this most recent publication.


Gewurtz writes of Molly, “In one of the first generations of Canadian women who earned their livings as artists, Bobak became known for her paintings, drawings, and watercolours. For her role in the Second World War and many other accomplishments she was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1973 and presented with the Order of Canada in 1995” [3].


Molly’s war pictures of the parades and various gatherings and crowds “proved to be the linchpin of her career, bringing into focus her earlier interests,” said Brian Foss [4].  Even her post-war pictures of flowers relate to this interest.  Molly said, “I simply love gatherings, minglings … the sort of insignificance yet the beauty of people all getting together.  And … that's why I paint flowers - the idea of them being fragile, and being anonymous, and yet when they’re all together so beautiful in their movement and in their feeling…” [5]




1. Michelle Gewurtz, Molly Lamb Bobak: Life & Work Accessed 6 Nov. 2018

2.Brian Foss, “Molly Lamb Bobak: Art & War,” Molly Lamb Bobak: A Retrospective, (Regina, SK: MacKenzie Art Gallery, 1993), p. 99

2. Gewurtz, Molly Lamb Bobak: Life & Work

3. Foss, 1993, p. 114

4.  Ibid.  

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