In her short life, Montreal-born Helen McNicoll (1879–1915) helped popularize Impressionism in Canada and documented the role of women in the early twentieth century. Although her sunny representations of rural landscapes, intimate child subjects, and modern female figures appear conventional at first glance, they offer a unique insight into how gender was perceived. Painting in a style that was acceptable for women of her era, she nevertheless created images of female subjects that offered subtle critiques of their expected roles. Deaf from the age of two, McNicoll worked primarily in Europe and achieved considerable international success during her decade-long career. For more on Helen McNicoll read Samantha Burton’s Helen McNicoll: Life & Work.
Samantha Burton is a lecturer in the Department of Art History at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where she held a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship from 2013 to 2015. She earned her PhD from McGill University in 2012, receiving the Arts Insights award for best dissertation in the humanities and the Canadian Studies Network national dissertation prize.