Art & Artists in Exhibition: Vancouver 1890 - 1950
     Home     Artists     Exhibitions     Organizations     Clippings     References    

Harold Mortimer-Lamb autobiographical notes

Editor's note: The following text is from a fond in the collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery Library. There are over 100 sheets of foolscap paper covered with various handwritten texts describing parts of Mortimer-Lamb's life. In addition to this information, his daughter Molly Lamb (q.v.) transcribed some of it in an attempt to complete the biography. The text below is selected from the large fond. Question marks indicate illegible text. Another 50 pages or so of similar material is in the collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, and was used by Robert Amos in writing his biography of Mortimer-Lamb: The Art Lover.

     A dinner to enable me to meet some of the leading pictorial photographers was also arranged by my friend, F.J. Mortimer, the Editor of the Amateur Photographer. Several whose names were well-known to me attended the dinner including .... whom I much enjoyed meeting. by the way poor Mortimer, who for his services in the Second World War, was given the Order of the British Empire, was killed while traveling to work in a bus by a German V. bomb.

     Toronto had then a very active Camera Club and I met several of its more talented members including Sidney Carter, A.S. Goss and Hodges, whose brother Colonel Hodges also became a friend of mine many years later in Victoria. The most able, artistically considered of this trip, was Carter. He had a job in a bank in Toronto, which ? and one day, rather impulsively and recklessly I suggested we establish a studio in Montreal in partnership to do portraiture. I agreed to finance the initial expenses of undertaking of necessity for a period after the start. Carter agreed and coming to Montreal we rented a large room over the Woolworth store on St. Catherine Street. The natural lighting however was not very good and this was a handicap. Our clientele was limited to those who could afford to pay $25.00 for an 8x10 print on platinum paper, those the more successful ? resembling mezzotints were quite admirable. For a time we had a number of sitters of wealth, such as Lady Drummond, Sir William Van Horne, Mr. Grant ? a millionaire merchant, and others, and Rudyard Kipling on a visit to Montreal accepted an invitation to sit on the suggestion of the principal of McGill University to sit for us. ...

     To commemorate the tour of the British possessions of the King and Queen the Royal Photographic Society granted honorary fellowships to representatives pictorialists in the respective Dominions, I was selected as the Canadian nominee for this honour.

     During the fourteen years I spent in the East I got to know intimately many of the leading painters of the period. They included Homer Watson, with whom I stayed as a guest in his home at Doon Ontario and who demonstrated to me what miracles can be wrought by glazing. A.Y. Jackson with whom I corresponded for years after -- Brymner, the president, and Dyonnet, the Secretary of the R.C.A. -- Maurice Cullen, Gagnon, Hebert sculptor, Suzor Cote and Robinson ... and in Toronto Williamson, Cruickshanks & Morris - and others less well known. I was also introduced to Macdonald of the Group of Seven, Harris, and Tom Thomson. A group of which Watson, Williamson and Morris (initiators) organized in a sort of secession movement from the Academy - an association known as ?.

     They induced two Canadian painters of international repute to join, Morrice and Horatio Walker --- I was made an honorary lay member. Unfortunately, this organization (which started under quite favorable auspices) whose existence at any rate at the time was well justified, was not long lived.

     Laura Muntz who painted children's portraits charmingly, was a very great and generous friend of mine. She went to Paris to study at a much later age than most students and during her stay was very hard-up but managed to pay the fees of the studio she attended by doing some sort of supervisory job and she lived mainly on oatmeal porridge. When ever ? was away the studio's visiting artist... ?

     Before returning to Canada, Laura Muntz exhibited for two years in succession at the Paris Salon, and on the last occasion was granted an honorary mention. I met her shortly after my arrival in Montreal and learned much from her in the understanding and appreciation of art. I started to paint under her guidance. I also joined a group of students who worked under Cullen on Saturday afternoons and went to the Beaux Arts school two or three nights a weeks for drawing and sculpture under Dyonnet's direction. But as my Institute duties became more demanding I was obliged to discontinue these recreational activities. Cullen for a long time had a hard time of it to make ends meet. Once he had an auction sale of a large number of his paintings but they went for a song, as low as ten dollars for a good canvas. He was a good painter and a very good lad. Before he became fairly prosperous as he did, before his fortunes changed for the better he married a widow with nine children.