Hilda Stewart

About the Artist

Hilda Stewart was born into an artistic family in London, England in 1892. Both her parents were artists of note who had studied at the Royal Academy of Art, and later exhibited at prestigious galleries in London.

Hilda was the seventh of eight children in the Pocock family, and was one of three siblings home-schooled by the oldest child, Edith. Hilda’s first choice for artistic training was music, but since three of her siblings were already studying music, her mother asked for her second choice, which was art.

Her mother taught Hilda drawing, and how to paint on ivory;  after that were endless accomplishments. Stewart completed her first miniature  portraitA work of art that represents a specific person, a group of people, or an animal. Portraits usually show what a person looks like as well as revealing something about the subject's personality. Portraits can be made of any sculptural material or in any two-dimensional medium. Portraiture is the field of portrait making and portraits in general. Portrait is a term that may also refer simply to a vertically-oriented rectangle, just as a horizontally-oriented one may be said to be oriented the landscape way. (Artlex.com)  on  ivoryTusks or teeth of mammals, especially those from elephants, walrus, hippopotamus, and whale; or the smooth, hard, yellowish-white material of which they consist; or a thing made of ivory. May also refer to the color of ivory, a pale grayish yellow to yellowish white. Because so many tusk producing animals are endangered species, it is unethical to purchase, use, or sell contemporary ivory. There are synthetic materials which appear nearly identical to ivory.  (Artlex.com)  at the age of 12. At 16, while she was going to a polytechnic school of art, she began attending lectures in anatomy at the Royal Academy of Art. At only 18 a miniature painting of her father was accepted into the Royal Academy’s annual exhibition. In addition, in 1916, Stewart became the youngest person ever to be elected as an associate member of the Royal Society of Miniature Painters. (NOTE:  The  paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (Artlex.com)  of portrait miniatures dates back to the 16th century, and The Royal Society of Miniature Painters itself was formed in 1896, and was limited to 100 professional and associate members.)

“Stewart’s career in London demonstrates an involvement with art that was both professional and public,” writes Lynne Bell. “She exhibited with prestigious institutions, entered competitions, and her work was acknowledged with prizes and publication.” (Bell, 1990)

After her marriage in 1921 Stewart and her husband moved to the small Saskatchewan community of Luseland, where he worked as a bank manager. Stewart’s memoirs record her initial sense of alienation in the prairie town, and of her gradual inclusion in the social life of the community and her satisfaction with her role as wife and mother.

Rocky Mountains

Stewart also became an active member of the artistic community in the province. Her husband was supportive, and in the spring of 1933 he rented a house in Banff. During the couple’s tour of the three nearby National Parks, Hilda painted 82 watercolours of Rocky Mountain scenery. Later that year the couple headed to Los Angeles, California in a car full of her watercolours and miniatures, which they planned to exhibit and sell there. Shortly after they arrived, however, Stewart’s husband suddenly became ill and died.

Hilda Stewart had never driven a car, and since it was now December, she did not want to risk driving back to Saskatchewan herself. The exhibition that had brought her to Los Angeles went well, and she spent the winter learning how to drive. In the spring a friend came down and helped her drive back to Luseland.

Stewart now faced the task of raising two daughters in the depths of the Great Depression, in one of the most drought-stricken areas of the Prairies. After spending a short time in England Stewart returned to Saskatchewan, which she realized was now her home. She was an art instructor at Regina College from 1935 to 1936, and then at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon from 1936 to 1948.

During her time in Saskatoon, Stewart exhibited her  portraitA work of art that represents a specific person, a group of people, or an animal. Portraits usually show what a person looks like as well as revealing something about the subject's personality. Portraits can be made of any sculptural material or in any two-dimensional medium. Portraiture is the field of portrait making and portraits in general. Portrait is a term that may also refer simply to a vertically-oriented rectangle, just as a horizontally-oriented one may be said to be oriented the landscape way. (Artlex.com)  miniatures, still lifes, and landscapes alongside the works of other prominent local artists such as Wynona Mulcaster, Mashel Teitelbaum and Ernest Lindner.

In her essay on Stewart for an exhibition at the Mendel Art Gallery, writer Lynne Bell sets out “…to retrieve the history of a woman artist, Hilda Stewart, who was one of my predecessors in the department of art at the University of Saskatchewan.” Bell notes that although Stewart was a successful professional miniaturist and Arts and Crafts designer in London, and later a prominent member of the Saskatoon art community, “…Stewart has nonetheless been written out of the traditional histories even though she gained considerable recognition in her own lifetime.”  (Bell, 1990)


On Hilda Stewart
Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning