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Legh Mulhall Kilpin, 1902

Legh Mulhall Kilpin’s career as an artist and teacher spanned four decades at the turn of the 19th century, a period marked by revolutionary changes in art theory and practices. Like other professionally-trained British artists who worked outside academic and avant-garde art circles, Kilpin is not well known today. However, both his art and his role as a teacher warrant attention.

Kilpin was an accomplished artist whose work ranges from prints to oil paintings, watercolour landscapes, Symbolist pieces and Art Nouveau designs. This eclecticism is entirely representative of mainstream fashions and popular tastes of his time. In England, he had been one of countless graduates of a rigid system of art training that emphasized a particular Victorian mode of cultivated taste and associated moral values. Because British models were admired and emulated in Canada, Kilpin moved seamlessly into the Canadian art world after moving to Montreal in 1906. His career in both countries exemplifies the life of the majority of working artists of his time.

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