Canadian Painting in the Thirties

Biography: Cecil Buller

Cecil Buller
Born in Montreal, Quebec, 15 September 1886
Died in Montreal, Quebec, 29 September 1973

Cecil Buller, Portrait of the Artist, 1949

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"A good [engraving] should strike the viewer from a distance? ? Today?s Art - 1963

Cecil Buller, an award-winning printmaker, illustrator, designer, watercolourist and painter played an active role in the wood engraving revival of the early 20th century. Her engravings superbly exploited the medium?s expressive possibilities through the use of a decorative and lyrical vocabulary.

She first studied at the Art Association of Montreal (now the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts) under the guidance of William Brymner. After a stint at the progressive Art Students League in New York in 1910, she travelled to Paris to study privately with Maurice Denis, the founding member of the Nabis. She decided to concentrate on graphic arts and moved to London in 1916 to study with famed British printmaker Noel Rooke, at the Central School of Art and Design. There she met American artist and future husband John Murphy, with whom she moved to New York.

In New York, she earned a considerable reputation for her wood engravings. She produced her masterpiece Song of Solomon, a suite of eleven wood engravings in 1929. She continued working in a variety of techniques, such as lithography and she started using the figure in a more subjective way to express her ideas about the human condition. In 1961 she returned to Montreal where she lived until her death at 87. She was awarded the Pennel Prize, Library of Congress, D.C. (1945), the Audubon Society Award (1947 and 1953) and the National Academy of Design Graphic Art Award (1949).

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  • Cecil Buller