Kathleen Moir Morris, an Artist of Great Interest to the Klinkhoff Family
Kathleen Moir Morris (1893-1986) has long been an artist of great interest to the Klinkhoff family. In our former gallery business, she was the subject of two retrospective exhibitions, one in 1976, which she attended herself and a second in 2003. The interest of the market and subsequently that of the Canadian museums has developed for the most part since our family art gallery began promoting the significance of Kathleen Morris and other members of the Beaver Hall Group. The publication in 1999 of Painting Friends, the Beaver Hall Women Painters by Barbara Meadowcroft, pivotal research in part subsidized by friends of the Walter Klinkhoff Gallery was instrumental in provoking attention to their contribution to the Canadian art canon. The recent development showing continued interest is the outstanding exhibition, 1920s Modernism in Montreal: The Beaver Hall Group, an exhibition produced and toured by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Kathleen Morris paintings have been featured in the 1924 Wembley Exhibition, international exhibitions in France, London, Brazil and New York and are in the collections of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, B.C.; Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ont.; Hart House, University of Toronto, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; the National Gallery of Canada and the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.
Kathleen Moir Morris, A.R.C.A. 1893-1986
Looking up Côte-des-Neiges, circa 1930
Oil on panel , 13 7/8 x 10 1/2 in (35.2 x 26.7 cm
Ms. Gladys (Rooney) Nares (Sister of Prudence Heward);
By descent to the niece of the above, Knowlton, Quebec;
Mr. & Mrs. William Reim, Hampstead, Québec, 1998;
Galerie Walter Klinkhoff Inc., Montreal;
Acquired from the above by the present owner, February 3, 1998.
Montreal, Art Association of Montreal, Spring Exhibition, 20 March - 19 April 1931, no. 180, as From Côte des Neiges;
Montreal, Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, Kathleen Morris Retrospective, 1976, no. 43.
Galerie Walter Klinkhoff, Kathleen Morris Retrospective, (Montreal 1976, no. 43.As has been written previously elsewhere, unlike the members of the Toronto based Group of Seven who travelled far afield, sometimes to remote and barren regions throughout the country looking for subject matter, the Beaver Hall Group women were more attracted to the painting opportunities of their urban environment, primarily Montreal, and not uncommonly around the corner from the home or studio. It is certainly no surprise that “Kay” Morris, for reasons also peculiar to her own physical circumstance and handicaps, her painting places were more limited than even those of her colleagues. The date of our painting, 1930 or conceivably early in 1931, finds Kathleen Moir Morris in Montreal from several years living in Ottawa. The perspective her painting shows is from the Medical Arts Building on Sherbrooke Street looking up Côte-des-Neiges, her Montreal home located over and down the hill near Saint Joseph’s Oratory, immediately south of Queen Mary Road. The Montreal Star heralded the Medical Arts Building as ‘‘the first modern building in Canada designed exclusively for physicians, surgeons, dentists and allied professional men.” Last month, in response to our inquiry, a friend of the gallery and a member of Miss Morris’ extended family kindly informed us that “Aunt Kay’s” dentist was Dr. Winston Bushell whose office was located on the 10th floor of the building. This location is substantiated by the 1930 Lovell Montreal Directory.
View from the 10th floor of Montreal’s Medical Arts Building, August 2019
Consequently, perched here in Dr. Bushell’s dental office, protected from Montreal’s harsh winter elements, Kathleen Moir Morris found outstanding subject matter contributing to the Montreal Beaver Hall Group canon. 1920s Modernism in Montreal, The Beaver Hall Group, an exhibition produced and toured by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts included in it a larger format Kathleen M. Morris painting of the same composition, painted from our sketch.
Kathleen Moir Morris, A.R.C.A. 1893-1986
Snow Carts, Lower Town, Quebec, 1925 (circa)
Oil on panel
10 1/4 x 14 i, 26 x 35.6 cm
Galerie Walter Klinkhoff Inc., Montreal
Private collection, February 1999
Kathleen Moir Morris’ paintings of Quebec City and Berthierville show an aspect peculiar to Kay Morris’ career. Some of her fellow female Beaver Hall Group members had family responsibilities that limited their opportunities to travel and to paint. Sarah Robertson, Nora Collyer and Anne Savage are excellent examples. In the case of Kathleen Moir Morris, it was her family, particularly her mother who provided support and encouragement for her to pursue her painterly interests. Her mother would in fact take her to places that would easily provide the artist a wealth of subject matter to her interest. Quebec City was in the mid 1920s as picturesque a city where with her limited mobility, literally from one spot Miss Morris would find a panorama of potential compositions appealing to her artistic sensibilities. Many of her most often published paintings are of Ottawa, Montreal, Berthier and Quebec.