Happy birthday to Prudence Heward, close friend of the Beaver Hall Group and co-founder of the Canadian Group of Painters. At a time when women artists were rarely granted the same artistic status as men, Heward (1896 – 1947) was called “the very best painter we ever had in Canada” by A.Y. Jackson. She was renowned for depictions of strong female figures which had “brilliant acid colours, sculptural treatment, and an intense brooding quality”—though she also painted male studies, as in this portrait of her golf caddy.
(Prudence Heward, My Caddy, 1941, oil on canvas, 62.3 x 51.1 cm, Art Gallery of Ontario, Gift of the Heward Family, Montreal, 1950)
“The 82-year-old woman, disabled since childhood, has left to posterity one of the finest testaments to the joy of Canadian life.
“I had a wonderful mother,” she said. “She would take me off on sketching trips and sit beside me while I painted. But on cold days I would go alone. I couldn’t walk miles, so I would be taken out to paint in a sleigh where I would be dropped off. The snow was so deep that the only place I could paint was in the tracks of the sleigh. I wore an old fur coat with an apron over it and a fur hat with earflaps. I was enough to frighten anything that came down the road.” She laughed, delighted with the retelling.
“When a sleigh did come along, I would have to move out of the tracks into snow up to here.” She leaned over and pointed to her thighs. “But do you know, I was never cold. It was so beautiful.”-1976