Listening to Art

10.12: Mary Hiester Reid, A Garden in September

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Listening to Art, by William Denton.

Volume ten, number twelve: A Garden in September by Mary Hiester Reid.

Hello, and welcome to Listening to Art. I’m William Denton.

I quote from the start of the “Biography” section of the online book Mary Hiester Reid: Life and Work by Andrea Terry:

Mary Hiester Reid (1854–1921) was a trailblazing artist who steadily gained critical and commercial acclaim in oil painting, especially her sophisticated floral still lifes. Hiester Reid’s rigorous training in the academic style of high realism included studies at Philadelphia’s School of Design for Women, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Académie Colarossi in Paris, France. Throughout her life she explored movements such as Aestheticism, Impressionism, and Arts and Crafts, and painted works filled with tonal intricacies and a wide range of colour. A prolific teacher of women artists in particular, Hiester Reid was dedicated to the advancement of arts education in North America. After her death, in 1922 the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario) hosted a large retrospective exhibition—the first one-woman show held at that institution since its founding in 1900.

Toronto journalist M.O. Hammond had a series of profiles titled “Leading Canadian Artists” in the Globe in 1930, and on 5 July he wrote about Mary Hiester Reid:

Poetry and humanity were happily blended in the make-up of Mary Hiester Reid, who for years occupied a foremost place among Canadian women painters. Twilight in a valley, the subtle tones of a domestic flower, almost the very fragrance of a bowl of roses, were equally at the command of her talented brush. The spectator was at once conscious of the impulse of a rare personality who, though almost shy, yet spoke eloquently by her work over a long period of years.

Mary Hiester Reid’s pictures were usually small, but unusually perfect in form, color and atmosphere. She had mastered drawing at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where she met and married another student, George A. Reid, who had gone over from an Ontario farm, and together they became forces in the development of art in Canada. They travelled and broadened their education in Europe and then settled in a studio in downtown Toronto.

In those days it required courage to forsake more profitable vocations and seek to make and promote art in Canada. The Reid studio soon became a gathering point in Toronto’s “Latin Quarter,” and the joys and sorrows of young, ambitious workers, afterward famous, were related at that hospitable fireside.

Mrs. Reid continued to paint faithfully, patiently and zestfully. Her wholesome records of sunlit gardens, orchards in blossom, moonlight studies, were painted with realism and a dash of sentiment. Her pictures sold rapidly and she is remembered in scores of homes and galleries by the fresh note of color and sweetness which she gives from her corner of the wall.

This is a painting, oil on canvas, 63.5 cm wide by 76.2 cm high.

Now let’s listen to A Garden in September by Mary Hiester Reid, recorded the Art Gallery of Ontario, in Toronto, on 22 April 2022.

Waveform of the field recording.

That was A Garden in September by Mary Hiester Reid. I hope you enjoyed listening to it as much as I did.

For more information and links to things I’ve mentioned, please visit

Listening to Art is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


All web sites accessed as of date of publication.

Art Gallery of Ontario. “A Garden in September.” AGO Collections.

Hammond, M.O. “Leading Canadian Artists: Representative Painters and Sculptors from Early Days in Canada to the Present: Mary Hiester Reid, A.R.C.A.” Globe, 05 July 1920.

Terry, Andrea. Mary Hiester Reid: Life and Work. Toronto: Art Canada Institute, 2019.

Wikipedia , s.v. “Mary Hiester Reid,”