Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor


Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald was a member of Canada's Group of Seven, joining in 1932. In 1933 he became a founder of the Canadian Group of Painters. FitzGerald was born in Winnipeg on March 17, 1890. After study in Winnipeg and Pittsburgh and at the Art Students League in New York in 1921 with Boardman Robinson and Kenneth Hayes Miller, FitzGerald joined the Winnipeg School of Art in 1924 and became its principal in 1929. He held that position until 1947.

FitzGerald's art is distinguished by its precise, often pointillistic, technique, poetic intensity, quiet tone, and subtle color. He explored the light and feeling of space on the Prairies, often using the area around his home in St. James, Manitoba, near Winnipeg. Located there for most of his career (though stimulated by visits in the 1940s to British Columbia, where he met Lawren Harris, a fellow member of the Group of Seven), he sought the "inner life of things."

In the 1950s FitzGerald turned to abstraction to express himself, but most critics agree that he was a typical Prairie artist. Lawren Harris believed that the brittle clarity of the atmosphere of the Prairies was reflected in FitzGerald's landscapes. In the catalog for the FitzGerald memorial exhibition, Ferdinand Eckhardt, director of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, wrote in 1958 that FitzGerald's work was typical of the Prairie Provinces "not only in subject matter but also in its simplicity, intensity, and friendly atmosphere." However, Alan Jarvis, director of the National Gallery of Canada, in the same catalog described FitzGerald's art as classical in a modern sense: "It was highly personal, sensitive and fastidious." He also stressed its universal significance. Fitz- Gerald also painted nudes and still lifes. Among his well-known works is Doc Snyder's House (1931), now at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. FitzGerald died in Winnipeg on August 5, 1956.

Joan Murray Robert McLaughlin Gallery

L. L. FitzGerald 1890–1956: A Memorial Exhibition. Exhibition Catalog. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1958.

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