Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mary Allison Doull (1866–1953) - PEI's First Professional Woman Artist

While Mary Allison Doull (1866–1953), is well known as PEI's first professional woman artist, she was also the first professional studio potter to operate on Prince Edward Island. While production pottery had been established locally with the short-lived PEI Pottery Company, it was Mary's work that would produce the first studio pottery from local clay and elevate work from simply utilitarian objects to be embraced for their beauty as well as their usefulness.

The Public Archives and Records Office of PEI has a brief biography:

Mary Allison Doull, born on April 13,1866 was the thirteenth child George Doull and Hannah Butcher. George was a cabinet maker and had a furniture factory in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. She studied art at Mt. Allison in Sackville, New Brunswick and, following graduation, taught art classes in Charlottetown and Summerside for several years before moving to a studio in New York. She also studied at Academie Julien in Paris and exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Francais and at the International Union. For three years she had a studio and gift shop in Bar Harbor, Maine. A portrait and landscape painter she became interested in pottery while studying at the National Academy of Design and did a lot of work with Island clay when she returned to PEI in the late 1920s and converted an unused Methodist church in Cape Traverse into a studio where she worked and sold her products. She died on 6 June 1953.

Pottery Book Ends by Mary Allison Doull.
From family collection of Ian & Daphne (Large) Scott

From family collection of Ian & Daphne (Large) Scott
 She struggled with her glazes and firing with many of her surviving pieces having glaze runs at the bottom.

Pottery Vase by Mary Allison Doull.
From Provincial Collection of PEI Museum & Heritage Foundation.
Her initials were MAD and that is one form that she used as her studio mark. She also used "M A Doull - P E Island" on some pieces. She also used MD combining the two letters so that the finishing stroke of the M and the opening stroke of the D were the same line. Known for her use of strong colours in her glazes, typically all her work was in red earthenware, from local clay bodies.

From family collection of Ian & Daphne (Large) Scott
Bowl by Mary Allison Doull
From family collection of Ian & Daphne (Large) Scott

Vase by Mary Allison Doull
From collection of Tom Banks

Vase by Mary Allison Doull
From collection of Tom Banks

Pottery mark used by Mary Allison Doull

Pottery mark used by Mary Allison Doull

Pottery made by Mary Allison Doull - collection of Catherine G. Hennessey

Pottery made by Mary Allison Doull - collection of Catherine G. Hennessey

Glazed bottoms were typical of much of her work using a trivet to keep things from sticking to the kiln. This often caused problems with glazes that were quite thick and ran during the firing thus sticking to kiln shelves during firing.

(HF.12.08.07) View of a Doull vase base, signed "M.D. PEI" with "Aunt Mary Doull" written in pencil. - From PEI Museum & Heritage Foundation website.
A signature mark of M.D. and P.E.I. is documented as one of the potter's marks she used; it is contained in the collection of the PEI Museum & Heritage Foundation.

Mary Allison Doull operated a Charlottetown studio which was advertised in the Daily Examiner 29 Nov, 1893 on page 2 - the ad appeared at least until 17 Feb, 1894; she was located in the Stamper block on the Victoria Row section of Richmond St. Years later a nearby shop on Richmond St. would also sell her work when two young women with prominent fathers, Ruth Heartz and Avila Mathieson  sold Mary Allison's work in their shop/library called Blue Doors Rental Library starting in the summer of 1928. Ruth and Avila were daughters of the Lt. Governor  and a former Premier who became Chief Justice of PEI. The lending library rented books to members on a daily basis.
Ruth describes in her biography, The Stranger Within, "We soon expanded into gifts-rather unusual ones at that time-Mary Allison Doull pottery". Their location was on Richmond  "just around the corner from the Queen St and opposite the Royal Bank" - she describes being close to Rum Row an area between Pownal and Queen Streets.

Mary Allison Doull
Photograph from the family collection of James Herbert & Margaret Jewell (Doull) Lord.

Inside Mary Allison Doull's studio, Cape Traverse 
Photograph from the family collection of James Herbert & Margaret Jewell (Doull) Lord
Mary Allison Doull's Studio, Cape Traverse
Photograph from the family collection of James Herbert & Margaret Jewell (Doull) Lord

An excellent article on Mary Allison Doull places her within context as an artist and potter, during a time when very few women pursued these occupations. The article has been removed from the original location and the link connects now to an archived version of the same article. To ensure the content remains available, the text has been copied below. It was originally published under the following title.

Home Is Where the Art Is:
20th-Century Women Visual Artists of Prince Edward Island
Researcher/Writer: Sandy Kowalik
First Hand: Arts Crafts, and Culture Created by PEI Women of the 20th Century 

Mary Allison Doull
Mary Allison Doull broke trail for the 20th century's Island women artists. Her ambition led her beyond the well-tread matrimonial path of her time to the art circles of New York and Paris. Mary was born in Wilmot Valley, the thirteenth of cabinet-maker George Doull and Hannah Butcher's 14 children. Mary's uncle, Mark Butcher, was PEI's most famous cabinet maker. Her later art was grounded in this family tradition of good design and excellence in craft. 
Mary attended Mount Allison Wesleyan Ladies College and Conservatory of Music in 1888, and, after teaching back on the Island for three years, returned to study under John Hammond, RCA. In 1894, she headed to the National Academy of Design in New York, with sister Maria Patience, to study painting and pottery. It was here she was exposed to the miniature revival, and, in time, became well known in New York as an accomplished miniaturist. Doull's most subtle and sensitive works were her portraits and still lifes painted on small pieces of ivory. 
In 1894, Doull set up a Fifth Avenue painting/teaching studio and immersed herself in the New York art world. As a member of the Catharine Loriland Wolfe Art Students League and The New York Pen and Brush Club, she had contact with most rising artists of her day. But Mary always retained her ties to the Island, coming back "home" most summers to work and teach. She influenced many girls and women, some of whom, most notably Georgie Read Barton, went on to become professional artists and teachers in their own right. 
Mary Allison Doull was one of the 200 or more Canadian artists, including Emily Carr and James Wilson Morrice, who made the trip to Paris before the First World War. At the age of 44 she studied at the Academie Julien and travelled to Italy. Her paintings were shown at the Expositions Annuelles des Beaux Art in 1910, 1911, and 1912. 
Doull was also active in the United States, showing with New York Watercolour Club in 1911 and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in 1912. She was perhaps the only Islander ever to become a member of the Women's Art Association of Canada (WAAC), the oldest organization of its kind in the world. 
The WAAC was established in 1897 to "develop the art and crafts, primarily for the building of the nation; and then for the benefit of the corporation and the community, which endeavours, in turn, to benefit the individual members of the association, through its efforts to help others" (see Harper). This idea of service to others is a theme common to most women artists throughout the century. Not only did they create their own art, but through teaching and building organizations, they nurtured the growth of art in their communities. 
In 1920, Doull set up a home and studio in Cape Traverse, PEI, permanently retiring here in 1928. She began experimenting with hand-building pottery, tiles, and sculpture made from Island clay. Arthritis in later years forced her to give up painting altogether, and clay became her primary medium. It is interesting to note that at the same time, on the other side of Canada, Emily Carr was also creating small clay items for the tourist market. 
Mary Allison Doull, PEI's first professional woman artist, died in 1953 at the age of 87. 
copied on Feb 21, 2017 from the Internet Archives, which archived a copy of the article originally published by Government of Prince Edward Island website.

Examples of her work is included within the Permanent Collection of the Confederation Centre of the Arts, in Charlottetown.

A recent article about Mary Allison Doull was added to the PEI Museum & Heritage Foundation's website which includes a link to a full album of images on their Flickr site.

A history of the Doull family and of relatives who moved to New Brunswick is well told by Colin M. MacKinnon, in the 2018 document called, John Wesley Doull and Charles Alexander Doull, “Cabinet Makers” of Sackville, New Brunswick.  Privately Published, Sackville, New Brunswick. 

Excellent articles by Leanne Gaudet published in both Ornamentum in 2017,  and The Island Magazine in 2018, have brought the work and life of Mary Allison Doull to a new audience.
Vase by Mary Allison Doull.
Collection of Friends of Eptek Centre - Eptek Art & Culture Centre
Summerside PEI.

I recently found an image of her home and studio in the book For The Sake of The Record by Jean MacFadyen - the book is undated but includes the article Jean wrote in January 1948 called Versatile Island Artist has Fascinating Studio on pg 165-167.

"This beautiful home was built in 1822 by John Clark. From 1920 to 1953 it was owned by the famous artist, Miss Mary Allison Doull. To the left was her studio, where she created many beautiful paintings, also made pottery from Island clay. Standing by the car of her father (Captain John L. Read) was Georgie Read Barton, who had arrived to begin her future career in art, in which she has become internationally famous."


Unknown said...

i have a tea pot from her i found in a house i bought

Unknown said...

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