Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Artist Margaret Catherine Maclure

This is a true story of a young boy and a beautiful painting. The image in the painting left a lasting impression upon the boy and stayed with him to this very day. My father-in-law was the boy and the lovely painting was by artist Margaret Maclure. He wrote this short story for us.

I was five years old where I lived with my dear mother and much adored stepfather in a rather large, formidable brick house situated in the Uplands area of Victoria, (Canada). I have two great memories of that time which stayed with me. One is of my stepfather's family dog Phisto, a large Irish setter who always stayed by my side. The other memory is of a beautiful painting of a native woman, the painting hung in the dining room. I was fascinated with the warmth and kindness which radiated from her face, I enjoyed visiting the dining room to look at her. There was a time when my stepfather's family arrived from eastern Canada and moved into the big house and we moved elsewhere. My mother attempted to purchase the painting from the family but it was not to be. My mother mentioned to me the artist who painted the picture was Margaret Maclure. Margaret Maclure was a true artist who loved to paint portraits of Indians and at that time she lived on Dallas road in Victoria. She would invite them to tea and ask if they would sit for her that she could paint them. Some did stay and sat for her, while others were concerned that having their portrait done would cause them to lose their spiritual power.

A friend of my mother, Mae John, tells a story of taking Margaret out to paint a chief of a village. Mae was given permission from the chief to paint his portrait. As they drove towards his home up a long driveway off the West Saanich road (Victoria), the chief obviously had a change of heart and was spotted by the two ladies escaping through his back door in a highly motivated dash towards the nearby woods.

Forty years later I heard mention that four Margaret Maclure paintings came up for sale at Lund's auction house in Victoria. I immediately went to the auction and to my surprise, there she was, a smaller painting with the familiar lovely face. We managed to purchase all four paintings and a friend of mine took one of them. Two years ago I did a trade with an art collector and acquired two more of Margaret’s paintings.

Margaret Maclure was the wife of Samuel Maclure, an architect and artist who was responsible for the design of many stately homes and buildings in Victoria.

Born in Scotland, Margaret Maclure came to British Columbia in 1899. Working in watercolour, she painted in both a traditional and oriental style and her subjects include portraits and native genre. A recognized pianist, she was married to Samuel Maclure. Biography courtesy of The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction: Volume III: M-R


Gillian Olson said...

Another great story, thanks

Sheila said...

I am fascinated by this story and grew up on Wellington off Dallas. i was wondering as I read it if there was any connection to Samuel Maclure. It's such an interesting tale and it'll be back soon to read more.

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