Kate Taylor Cumming

1889-1971GalleryArtist Painting
Kate Taylor Cumming is known for her special talent in painting small portrait miniatures on sheets of ivory, particularly a portrait of Lady Tweedsmuir that still hangs in Ottawa at Rideau Hall.

Born Kate Livingston Taylor in Ingersoll in 1889, Cumming was praised for her art from a young age. She received the Pile Gold Medal for proficiency and promise in art from her Chatham high school and went on to train at the Detroit College of Art where she saw and painted her first miniatures. Continuing her studies at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, she received a number of scholarships and was appointed Associate in the Department of Drawing and Painting upon graduation. Cumming’s oil and watercolour paintings varied in size, but miniature portraits on sheets of ivory became her specialty. The miniatures on average are approximately two by three inches in size, painted in watercolour mixed with a special medium. She sometimes worked from preliminary sketches but most often painted directly on the ivory.

In 1922 she married Reverend R.B. Cumming, a Methodist minister. Together they had three children and moved quite often throughout southwestern Ontario, living in several small towns. On top of her duties as a minister’s wife, Cumming was actively pursuing her painting practice. The high point of her career was a commission from the Federated Women’s Institute of Canada to paint a miniature of Lady Tweedsmuir, wife of the then Governor-General. Cumming traveled to Ottawa on two separate occasions, completing sketches of Lady Tweedsmuir over the course of eight sittings. From these sketches, she produced an intricate miniature portrait between October 1937 and April 1938 that was presented to Lady Tweedsmuir in Toronto at the convention of Women’s Institutes of Central Ontario. Cumming received the King George VI medal for her work.

Her work was included in the Royal Canadian Academy exhibition (1915-1917), the Canadian National Exhibition in 1922, and in the Annual Western Ontario Exhibition (1951, 1956). A solo exhibition of Cumming’s work was held at the London Public Library and Museum in 1953. Her works were also shown with Greg Curnoe at McIntosh Gallery (1962) and with Mabel Dejean at the Fred Landon Branch Library, London (1967). After suffering a stroke, her health deteriorated until she passed away four years later in 1971.

Biography by Kelsey Perreault

 

Sources:

de Luca, Vivian. “Painting Fills Pleasant Hours for Artistic Wife of Area Minister.” The London Free Press.

“Women’s Institutes Meet in Toronto.” The Canadian Countryman. 1937.

Spears, Tom. “Our Forgotten Artist.” Ottawa Citizen, October 5, 2013.

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