A woman with a blurred face is painting a picture on an easel. The turquoise form sketched on the canvas is the same colour as the artist’s shirt. Behind her are a vase, also turquoise, and picture frames leaning against the wall.

Marion Long

(Toronto 1882 – Toronto 1970)

 

Self-Portrait of the Artist in Her Studio

about 1930-1940

Oil on wood panel

25.4 x 30.5 cm

Purchased in 1988

Library and Archives Canada, Accession number 1988-313-1, item 2000811836, LAC 1

© Estate of Marion Long. Photo: Library and Archives Canada


In Self-Portrait of the Artist in Her Studio, Marion Long depicts herself painting at an easel. The touches of turquoise and blue she is applying on the canvas echo the colours of her shirt and the vase in the background. This is a mise en abyme, a picture-within-a-picture, with the artist painting her own portrait. Using expressive brushstrokes, Long has mysteriously blurred her features and obscured her eyes. This may have been a way of expressing how she had to blend her identity as an artist with the image of a humble, discreet woman in keeping with the social norms of her day.


Marion Long studied at the Ontario College of Art and took lessons with Laura Muntz Lyall. In 1907, she went to New York to study for a year at the Art Students League. While there, she painted the city with keen interest. Returning to Canada, she opened a studio in Toronto, where she produced street scenes, portraits and landscapes. In 1933, she became the second woman, after Charlotte Schrieber, elected a full member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. As a popular portraitist, she was commissioned to paint several men and women of the Canadian forces during World War II.

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