Laura Muntz Lyall
Laura Muntz Lyall was born in Leamington Spa in England. In the 1890s, the successful Lyall had come a long way from her beginnings in rural Ontario on a farm on Lake Muskoka. Despite her family’s disapproval on her artistic inclinations, regarded as “traits requiring discipline and correction”, Lyall moved to Hamilton in 1881, where she studied to be a teacher while learning to paint under the tutelage of portraitist J.W.L Forster. She had accumulated sufficient funds to travel to London, England by 1887, where she briefly attended the South Kensington School of Art, and then to Paris, where she enrolled at the Académie Colarrosi. Although “respectable” single woman could visit cafés and walk the busy Parisian boulevards, women artists were expected to respect the “spheres of feminity”, the domestic world of women and children exemplified in the paintings of Mary Cassat and Berthe Morisot, whose work Lyall would have seen in Paris. Lyall exhibited frequently to critical acclaim at the Paris Salon. She returned to Canada in 1898. She died in 1930 in Toronto.
Back in Canada, she continued to make a living from portraits commissions.She is known in particular for her images of maternité.
In Paris, her academic study of the figure was complemented by the influence of the Impressionists, whose loose brushwork and luminous colour made an impact on her work.
Source : Anne Newlands, Canadian art from its beginnings to 2000, Firefly book, 2000