Work & Bio

Marjorie Pigott

Born in 1904
 / Died in 1990

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PIGOTT, Marjorie

Yokohama, Japan  January 6, 1904. Came to Canada in 1940.

Toronto  January 12, 1990

Born in Yokohama, Japan, of an English father who had commercial interests in Japan, and a Japanese mother of noble birth. She and her sisters were of British nationality according to Japanese law which determines the nationality of the family through the father. She and her four sisters received an education from English governesses until they were old enough to attend English boarding schools in Britain and Japan. But Marjorie was too delicate to travel abroad. Her mother had a thorough knowledge of Japanese art and their home was filled with priceless treasures of ancient Japan. Marjorie’s aptitude for art was recognized by her mother (her father died while she was very young) and she was sent to the Nanga School where she studied under master artists for twelve years. This school of painting is almost abstract in method and stresses the importance of the skilful use of brush in applying black ink in various ways of light and shade to express how the artist feels about the subject. She received her Seal Diploma and a Master Diploma (Teacher’s Certificate) designating her a Nanga Master. Part of her teacher’s name Shutei is on the Seal Diploma as an honour for her achievement in certain atmospheric misty effects in her paintings. The great earthquake of 1923 destroyed 90 percent of the ancient treasures in the Pigott home. A second trauma was caused by the imminence of World War Two. With her family’s British nationality she and her sister Edith were advised to leave Japan. In 1940 aged 36 she arrived in Canada settling first in Vancouver. The climate was hazardous to her health so she and her sister moved east and settled in Toronto. For the first few years she kept active doing floral studies (many in lacquer) for a commercial firm. Then she taught the Nanga technique to Japanese in Canada for the next ten years (1955-65). Afterwards she began a series of water colours of landscapes around Muskoka. She never paints on the spot but absorbs nature around her then paints from memory when she returns to her studio using photos to accurately portray the size and shape of various weeds and flowers in her paintings. From the disciplined brush-strokes of the Nanga School she developed a technique of semi­abstract wet-into-wet water colour. In 1950 she first employed the Nanga School brush strokes in depicting Canadian scenes incorporating the ancient technique in her work and gradually developing her present style of semi­abstract landscape and floral paintings. Viewing her work in 1975 Kathleen Walker of The Citizen noted, “The majority of the paintings are what might be termed ‘interior’ landscapes – close-ups of grasses and wild flowers imbued with a feeling of late summer’s lazy heat. This is especially evident in Droning Bees and Last Rose of Summer, both reminding one of the full-bloomed works in Keats’ ode to Autumn. But the artist is occasionally crisp, using a spatter technique and that ‘trade secret’ to heighten the chill in Frozen Landscape. One of her latest works, Dancing Grasses effectively combines a peachy soft, mottled background with the more harsh sumie brush strokes. These close views expressing as they do, a quiet love for natural beauty, are the highlights of Marjorie Pigott’s collection.” Her solo shows include: Roberts Gallery, Tor. (1962, 64, 66, 68, 70, 72, 74); Wallack Gallery, Ottawa (1971, 73, 75); Kensington Fine Art Gallery, Calgary (1969, 72); Gallerie Fore, Winnipeg (1972) and she has participated in many important group shows including: 4th Biennial Exhibition of Canadian Art, Ottawa (1961); Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour; C.N.E. Art Gallery, Tor.; London Art Gallery “Six Ways with Water Colour” (1961); Annuals of Art Gallery of Hamilton (1962, 1963); Ontario Society of Artists; Spring Exhibition of Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1964); St. Catharines Arts Council (1964). She is represented in the following collections: Sony of Canada Ltd., Winnipeg, Man. (1973); London Art Gallery, Ont.; Art Gallery of Sarnia, Ont.; University of Western Ontario, London, Ont.; Dominion Foundries & Steel Ltd., Hamilton, Ont.; Hamilton Club, Hamilton, Ont.; University College, Tor.; Steel Company of Canada; I.B.M., Tor.; York Club, Tor.; The Ladies Club, Tor.; Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Tor.; McLaughlin Public Library, Oshawa, Ont.; Atlantic Inst. of Education, Halifax and elsewhere. Member: Royal Canadian Academy (ARCA 1971; RCA 1973); CSPWC (1964); O.S.A. (1963).

Colin S. MacDonald

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 (online only), by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker
National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

Studied at

- Studied under the master artists of the Nanga School of Art in Japan for about 12 years
- Received teacher's diploma & seal designating her a Nanga Master
- From the disciplined brush-strokes of the oriental school, developed technique of semi-abstract wet-into-wet watercolour taught Nanga art in Toronto 1955-65

Member of

Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour
Ontario Society of Artists
Royal Canadian Academy:  ARCA 1971, RCA 1973

Group Exhibitions

National Gallery of Canada - 4th Biennial
Royal Canadian Academy
C.S.P.W.C. - annual exhibitions
Ontario Society of Artists - annual exhibitions
London Regional Art Gallery
Victorian Artists Society - Melbourne, Australia
Roberts Gallery, Toronto
Wallack Galleries, Ottawa


National Gallery of Canada
Art Gallery of  Sarnia
London Art Gallery
Confederation Art Gallery, PEI
Tom Thomson Gallery, Owen Sound
Univ. of Toronto, University College
University of Western Ontario
Atlantic Institute of Education, Halifax
Waterloo Lutheran University
McLaughlin Public Library, Oshawa
C.I.B.C. , Toronto
Imperial Oil Limited, Toronto
I.B.M. Canada , Toronto
Crown Life Insurance
Rothman Collection of Canada
Dominion Foundries & Steel Ltd.
Steel Company of Canada Sony of Canada
Hallmark Cards
The York Club
The Ladies Club, Toronto
The Hamilton Club
Tory, Tory, Deslauriers & Binnington
Royal Collection - Windsor Castle
Art Gallery of Hamilton