Mary Riter Hamilton
Easter Morning, La Petite Penitente, Brittany, c. 1900
oil on canvas
117.4 x 82.2 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of Mrs. Horace Crawford
Mary Riter Hamilton’s intimate portrait of a peasant girl was painted while the artist was studying in Paris, around the time she first started exhibiting at the French Salon in 1905. The WAG work exalts the unique local culture of northwestern France: the supplicant holds a rosary and is seated with what is likely a prayer book at her right; the clogs testify to a hard farm life. Considered remote and deeply traditional, the French regions of Brittany and Normandy and their inhabitants were favourite subjects for earlier French painters. Hamilton returned to Canada in 1906 and settled in Winnipeg. Shortly thereafter, she mounted an exhibition of her Paris paintings and sketches in private residences and galleries in Winnipeg and Toronto; Easter Morning was considered her exhibition’s masterpiece.