Emily Carr
1871-1945
Emily at 21 or 22
Emily Carr, Age 21 or 22 years
Detail of H-02813

 

Emily Carr is one of Canada's most renowed artists, and one who is closely associated with British Columbia. Emily was the fifth daughter of Richard and Emily Carr, born in Victoria on December 13,1871.

The Carrs
Mr. and Mrs. Carr
Source from A-09184

 

Emily's career as an artist began at a very young age. She began taking drawing classes at the age of sixteen. Emily's parents died when she was in her early teens, and her guardian, lawyer James Lawson, gave her permission to study at the California School of Design, in San Francisco.

She attended school in San Francisco from the Fall of 1890 until the Spring of 1893. She then travelled to England where she attended the Westminister School of Art. In 1910, Emily headed to Paris. There she studied at the Academie Colarossi, where men and women had classes together.

Young Emily Carr
Detail of A-02037
Emily studied in Paris for only one month before she fell ill, suffering a nervous breakdown. Emily spent three months in hospital before travelling to Sweden with her sister Alice.

In the Spring of that same year, Emily returned to France, where she continued to paint. This time, she avoided Paris and stayed in small towns and villages.

In November 1911, Emily returned to Victoria after a total of fourteen months in France.

The Carrs
Emily Carr
Detail of D-06009

 

After studying in England and France, Emily began to paint in the style of the "New Art" but the simple shapes and sweeping brush strokes of her canvases were laughed at and insulted.

 

Emily and Native people
Emily Carr visits Native peoples
Detail of F-07756

 

In 1912, a year after returning to Canada, she made a a six-week visit to Tanu and Skedans on the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii). It is here that she produced many of her painting of the lush West Coast wilderness.

She taught art to children in Vancouver, but she returned to Victoria in 1913. Unable to sell her art, she ran a boarding home called the 'House of All Sorts' for twenty years on Simcoe Street in Victoria B.C.

Emily with her Pets
Emily with her Pets
Detail of B-02224

 

The Elephant
Emily Carr and the
"Elephant" trailer
Detail of F-07885

 

In 1927 she travelled to Eastern Canada where she met the Group of Seven. It was after this meeting that her art was "discovered" and she became an honourary member of the Group of Seven.

In 1937 Emily was honoured with a solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and in 1938 she enjoyed another successful solo exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

At the age of seventy, due to failing health, Emily was told by her doctor to slow down. This prompted Emily to change her outlet for creativity and she began writing.

In 1941 her book Klee Wyck, which described her painting adventures as a young woman, was published. She received the Governor General's medal for literature for Klee Wyck and much critical praise.

Emily with Woo
Emily with her pet monkey Woo
G-02845

 

Emily Carr spent her last days at a home for the elderly and infirm, run by the Catholic nuns, The Sisters of the Love of Jesus, in the building which today is known as the James Bay Inn.

It is here that Emily Carr died, on March 2, 1945. She is buried in the Carr Family plot at the Ross Bay Cemetery.






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