There’s a whole room at the Winnipeg Art Gallery right now filled with the work of L.L. Fitzgerald. Lionel LeMoine Fitzgerald was the only western member of Canada’s famous Group of Seven painters. L.L. was born on St. Patrick’s Day in 1890 which his father may have thought was lucky since the senior Fitzgerald was of Irish descent. L.L’s mother’s family had immigrated to Canada from England and her parents had a farm in Snowflake, Manitoba.
L.L and his brothers spent their summer vacations on the farm and L.L.’s ashes were scattered there after his death of a heart attack in 1956.
L.L. had to leave school after grade eight and he got a job as an office boy but started drawing in his spare time. The first thing he ever drew was an oak tree.
He studied books about drawing and after he married his wife Felicia and had a son and daughter, he found work using his artistic talents as an interior decorator, theatre set designer and window dresser. L.L. visited the Art Institute in Chicago in 1910 and had his first art exhibition in Winnipeg in 1921. He made enough money to go to New York to study art. In 1924 he began teaching art at the Winnipeg School of Art where he served as the principal from 1929-1947.
L.L.’s work currently on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery is all from his Impressionist period from 1910 to 1920. L.L. was admitted to the famous Group of Seven in 1932 after the death of one its members J.E. H. McDonald.
The paintings in the current exhibit feature prairie scenes and Winnipeg locations. A gold coin was issued by the Canadian Mint in 2003 featuring a painting of LL’s called Houses.
I’m glad to have a chance to introduce the children on the tours I give at the Winnipeg Art Gallery to our city’s famous native son.