Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Dandelions by Susannah Moodie c 1860
Many genteel Victorian women were accomplished water colour artists, since learning to draw and paint was often part of the middle or upper class upbringing of girls. This was not the case for Thomas Strickland's children, however, who were given a more academic and practical education. In her teens, Susanna persuaded May Ritchie, wife of the Wrentham Congregational Church pastor, to teach her the rudiments of drawing and water colour painting. In return, Susanna volunteered in the Ritchies' school for the children of the village poor.
Throughout her life Susanna turned to water colour painting for both pleasure and profit (see Roughing It in the Bush, chapter 11 and Susanna's letter to Catharine, November 18, 1866). Her subjects were mostly floral and she sometimes included small animals or birds in the composition. Occasionally Susanna sketched small scenes, such as her series of water colour washes of the mines at Marmora. Some of the many pictures she sold to augment her income were painted, not on paper, but on dried maple fungi -- a popular curiosity for late Victorian collectors.
Susanna passed on her painting skill to her daughter Agnes, who made good use of it to illustrate Catharine Parr Traill's books Canadian Wild Flowers and Studies of Plant Life in Canada.
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