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Muysson, Hertha
Tom Keating
1977

In the catalogue for her 1974 solo exhibition, Hertha Muysson explained how she became an artist: “I began to paint when I received my old age pension, before that I had to work.” Muysson immigrated to Canada in 1954 and settled in Guelph, Ontario, where she was a dressmaker and her husband, Willem, a portrait photographer. The latter, John MacGregor suggests in the same catalogue, “may help to explain what might be called the passport photo format of her portraits.” When Muysson turned to painting, portraits were her primary focus”of family and friends past and present, imaginary people and, in the case of famous forger Tom Keating, media personalities she had never met. Expressive and vibrant, her portraits are also unabashedly about artistic license. The frame of clothing and hair was important to Muysson, with her eye for dress design. When she painted real people, she used preliminary drawings from sittings, and if she did not like the clothing her subject wore, she replaced it in the final portrait. Of her Imaginary Portrait of Regina, she said “For me she is real, but she never existed, she is not there. I like her eyes’ It is as though she might hypnotise you. I gave her my hair, my shirt, my tan too.” Muysson also ‘stole’ accessories from other artists-like a hat, or the ‘little ‘V'” under a jacket, from Renoir. But, she clarified, ‘it is not all stolen. I have never copied.’ Unlike her self-assured Keating.

 
Muysson, Hertha
born Berlin, Germany 1898; died Guelph, ON 1984
Tom Keating
1977
Oil on masonite
38.5 x 30.6 cm
Anonymous Gift, 2015
58-014.03

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