Legh Mulhall Kilpin’s career as an artist and teacher spanned
four decades at the turn of the 19th century, a period marked by revolutionary
changes in art theory and practices. Like other professionally-trained
British artists who worked outside academic and avant-garde art circles,
Kilpin is not well known today. However, both his art and his role
as a teacher warrant attention.
Kilpin was an accomplished artist whose work ranges from prints
to oil paintings, watercolour landscapes, Symbolist pieces and Art
Nouveau designs. This eclecticism is entirely representative of
mainstream fashions and popular tastes of his time. In England,
he had been one of countless graduates of a rigid system of art
training that emphasized a particular Victorian mode of cultivated
taste and associated moral values. Because British models were admired
and emulated in Canada, Kilpin moved seamlessly into the Canadian
art world after moving to Montreal in 1906. His career in both countries
exemplifies the life of the majority of working artists of his time.