Photo: University of Manitoba

Photo: University of Manitoba

Selected Collections
The Feckless Collection Vancouver, BC
National Gallery, Ottawa, ON
McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, ON
Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, MB

L.L. FitzGerald, 1890 - 1956

Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald was born and raised in Snowflake, near  Winnipeg, Manitoba. Outside training in Pittsburgh and New York and several trips out west to British Columbia, he spent his life in and around his childhood homestead in Snowflake.

Fitzgerald began drawing in 1904 as a teenager. He’d left school at 14 and was working in a drugstore when the urge to draw took hold of him. He had had some initial art training in school, so he got himself some paper and that’s where he began. A few years later, in 1909, he took evening classes at A.S. Kesztheyli's Art School. 

FitzGerald married Felicia Wright in 1912. They had two children, a son Edward in 1915, and a daughter Patricia in 1919. Fitzgerald started taking more creative jobs during this time to support his young family; designing window displays, interior decorating, and painting theatre backdrops.

In 1913 he exhibited for the first time with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. In 1918, his painting, Late Fall, Manitoba was purchased by the National Gallery of Canada and in1921, Fitzgerald held his first solo exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. 

However, despite his success, he still felt the need for more training. So, during the winter of 1921-22, he relocated his family to New York so he could study at the Art Students League of New York.

Upon his return to Winnipeg, Fitzgerald found work in commercial design and became assistant to G. Keith Gebhardt, Principal of the Winnipeg School of Art. In 1929, Fitzgerald would take on the same position and hold it for the next 20 years. 

However, teaching made considerable demands on his time, and as a result, his art developed slowly. FitzGerald chose simple subject matter; prairie scenes, his neighbour’s backyard, a potted plant, a small mason jar.  All reflected the strength of his ties to his home and to the Manitoba landscape. He exhibited his works primarily in Winnipeg and Toronto.

Following an exhibition of his work in Toronto in 1928, FitzGerald was invited to exhibit with the Group of Seven. However, it was always understood that Fitzgerald was very shy and be became known as the loner of the group. The group disbanded in 1932, just a few years after FitzGerald joined, and so he became one of the founding members of the Canadian Group of Painters, the successor to the Group.

In 1942 FitzGerald took his first trip to the West Coast of British Columbia which he found hugely inspiring and stimulating; he would return again to BC during the winters of 1947 and 1948. On one of these trips he met up with former Group of Seven colleague, Lawren Harris. Afterwards, Fitzgerald created pointillist pen and ink studies, a technique that would permeate his later paintings.

After Fitzgerald’s death, a set of self-portraits and nudes were found; subject matter that was highly unusual for the shy painter.

Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald died in Winnipeg of a heart attack on August 7, 1956. His ashes were spread in a field near his home in Snowflake, Manitoba.