Emily Mary Gunn Fried

Other Names:
Emily Mary Gunn; Emily M. Gunn; Emily Gunn; Mrs. John Fried; Emily Mary Fried; Emily Mary Gunn Fried

Emily Mary Gunn attended the Western School of Art and Design and Hellmuth College in London, Ontario and also received training in New York, Detroit, and Paris. She taught art classes from her London studio in the 1890s and showed her work at the 1906 Paris Salon.

Emily Mary Gunn was born in London, Ontario c.1862. Although she married John Fried (sometimes spelled Freed) in 1898, many sources refer to her by her unmarried name.

Emily M. Gunn attended the Western School of Art and Design in London, Ontario. In 1889 she graduated from Hellmuth Ladies College, also in London, Ontario, with the gold medal in art. In 1890, she was working as an assistant instructor in the Hellmuth art department. 

Gunn also studied beyond London – completing a course in 1891 at the American Art Students’ League in New York and training for six weeks under china-painter George Leykauf in Detroit in 1897. Gunn would also study art in Paris, instructed by artists Charles Hoffbauer and Richard Miller, and in 1906 displayed a painting at the Paris Salon – one of only two London, Ontario artists to have done so at that time (the other was Paul Peel), and possibly one of the first Canadian woman to do so.

Emily M. Gunn was an active contributor to the London, Ontario art community in the 1880s and 1890s. Friends with local artists Caroline Farncomb and Eva Bradshaw, her practice included china-painting, woodcarving, clay-modelling, drawing, and painting (including still life and landscapes, and subject matter of birds and flowers).

Gunn gained recognition for her artistic talents in 1880 when The London Advertiser wrote favorably about works in pen and ink and pencil and crayon that she had shown at London’s Western Fair. In 1881 she was awarded first prize in two categories at the Western Fair as well as a prize at the Ontario provincial fair. At the 1885 “Grand Dominion and Fortieth Provincial Exhibition of The Agriculture and Arts Association of Ontario” Emily M. Gunn won an impressive nine first place prizes in the categories of “Best still life, not fruit or flowers (fine art – oils, professional or amateur, original work)” and “Best animals from life (oils, amateur, copies)” – where second place prizes went to fellow London artists Paul Peel and Mary Ella Dignam respectively – and others in oils, decorated porcelain, watercolours, crayon, and statuary.

Some sources place Emily M. Gunn as living in Toronto, Ontario in 1893. However, if she was, this seems to have been a temporary move, since many of her activities from 1983 to her marriage in 1898 did not take place in Toronto.

In 1893, along with other artists from Hellmuth College, Emily M. Gunn showed a variety of her work (a watercolour, a carved oak mirror frame, a copper plate etching, and an example of her china-painting) at the Columbian Exhibition at the World’s Fair in Chicago. That same year she showed her work with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in Montreal at their annual exhibition.

In 1895 Gunn participated in the London Women’s Art Club’s second annual spring exhibition and their second annual exhibition of “decorated china” in the late Fall. Between those two exhibitions, she travelled abroad, returning home in September 1895 from what The London Advertiser described as an “extended trip through Great Britain and the continent.”

Additionally, Emily M. Gunn taught art classes in her London Dundas Street studio from roughly 1894 to 1896 – as shown by advertisements offering art lessons that she placed in the London Free Press and The London Advertiser. She is thought to have kept her London studio until 1897.

The Fried family did move to Toronto, likely sometime between 1902 and 1906. The 1901 Canada Census lists Emily M. Gunn and her family living in London, a later 1906 mention in The London Advertiser refers to her as a “former London lady”, and finally a 1907 issue of The Globe mentions “Mr. and Mrs. John Fried, formerly of London” settling into their new home in Toronto. Gunn would become a member of the Woman’s Art Association of Canada and exhibit her work with the organization.

In 1927, Emily M. Gunn and her husband moved to Los Angeles California with her husband where she was an art teacher for a number of years. (The couple’s son and younger daughter would also move to California, while their elder married daughter remained in Canada).

Emily Mary Gunn Fried passed away in 1953 in Los Angeles.

Biography by Samantha Merritt, Sidney Hicks, and Luvneet K. Rana



“A Local Budget.” The London Advertiser, October 28, 1897.

“A Londoner Honored.” The London Advertiser, April 18, 1906.

“Canada Census, 1901.” Database with images. Library and Archives Canada. https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/census/Pages/census.aspx. Library and Archives Canada.

“Condensed Local News.” The London Advertiser, May 23, 1906.

Butlin, Susan. “A New Matrix of the Arts: A History of the Professionalization of Canadian Women Artists, 1880-1914.” PhD thesis, Carlton University, 2008.
Online via Proquest <www.proquest.com>.

Harper, J. Russell. Early Painters and Engravers in Canada. Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto Press, 1970.

“Hellmuth Ladies College: At the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The finest presentation of the Canadian Ladies Colleges.” The Globe, August 26, 1893.

“John Fried to be Buried Tomorrow.” Los Angeles Times. July 27, 1930.

“Last Rites Set for Retired Art Teacher.” Los Angeles Times. June 15, 1953.

“London and Environs.” The London Advertiser, June 19, 1891.

“London and Environs.” The London Advertiser, September 20, 1895.

“London and Environs.” The London Advertiser, September 25, 1895.

“London. Marriage of E.M. Gunn to Mr. John Fried – $250 For Mrs. Emerson.”
The Globe, April 21, 1898.

“London: Mr. Nicholls Liability–New Queen’s Avenue Church– Women’s Art – The Piano Case.” The Globe, March 15, 1895.

“London: Opening of the New Public Library-The Speakers– Women’s Art Club – Criminal Cases.” The Globe, November 27, 1895.

London Regional Art Gallery. Late Victorian London Artists.
London, Ontario: London Regional Art Gallery, 1986. Exhibition Catalogue.

Poole, Nancy Geddes. The Art of London, 1830-1980. London, Ontario: Blackpool Press, 1984.

Ontario Department of Agriculture. Annual Report of the Department of Agriculture for the Province of Ontario, 1885. Toronto, Ontario: Warwick and Sons, 1886.

McMann, Evelyn de R. Biographical Index of Artists in Canada. Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto Press. 2003.

McMann, Evelyn de R. Royal Academy of Arts: Exhibitions and Members 1880-1979. Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto Press, 1981.

“Social Events.” The Globe,  February 16, 1907.

The London Advertiser, 1890s.

See also: Eva Bradshaw; Caroline Farncomb; Mary Ella Dignam

Timeline Entries:
Emily M. Gunn Fried Exhibits Painting at the Paris Salon

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