Saturday 29 April 2023

History corner ~ April 2023 by John Lover

In a review of the IASC Annual Exhibition of 1925, the Victoria Times art critic made this note of one of the first-time exhibitors: “Mrs. Drummond’s studies of wild animals are arresting. This artist is already well known for the method of her work as well as for the work itself, as she made long journeys into the wilds by dogsled, in order to study the wild animals in their native haunts.”

Nora Georgina Drummond, born in Bath, Somerset in 1862, was an artist and illustrator, whose work typically featured dogs and country pursuits, such as hunting, in Britain and Ireland and later in Canada. She was a member of an impressive family of artists, growing up surrounded by art. Her father was a former Master of the Bath School of Art and Design and an art tutor of the Royal Family, and two of her uncles were painters of some distinction and influenced her choice of subject matter.

Drummond was already an established artist in England when. together with her husband, Daniel Davies, she emigrated to Canada shortly before the turn of the century.  Initially they lived in Banff, Alberta, where she worked as a private tutor in painting and illustrations, adding Canadian wild animals to her repertoire.  One of her pupils was Peter Whyte, who later set up the foundation for the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. He recalled her as an eccentric woman who lived with eleven dogs and hordes of cats, but also as an excellent teacher. In the 1920s Drummond also taught at the Banff Public School.  

She became best known for the illustrations she produced for Raphael Tuck, a British publishing company with interests in the US and Canada, which produced an extensive range of art postcards.

Drummond subsequently moved to British Columbia, where she also enjoyed landscape painting. She joined the Island Arts and Crafts Society, exhibiting in its annual exhibitions from 1925 to 1932 and at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1933. Allegedly she was rather unfairly referred to by a waspish fellow artist Emily Carr as “the old tabby who paints cats and dogs.”  

She died in 1949 at Goldstream, Vancouver Island. Her works are in the collections of the New York Public Library, the Whyte Museum and the University of Victoria.

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