Rhodes, Lily Bell

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Lily Bell Rhodes 1889 - 1975


“Quick! Get a jar. Take it to Lily Bell!”
With those words an oddly attractive, but rare insect would (to its astonishment) find itself trapped behind glass and on its way to be sketched by Lily Bell, an avid artist and lover of all things natural. And whatever that bug looked like, she would kindly turn it loose when she was done.
Daughter of Francis Rhodes and Totie LeMoine, (grand-daughter of Colonel and Anne Rhodes) she would likely have been brought up in the LeMoine family home, known as Spencer Grange, in Quebec City, which became the Lieutenant-Governor’s residence, and then a Canadian Heritage property and museum.
Lily Bell had a sister Frances and two other sisters who died in infancy. One of those, Anne, died before she was born but the other, Gertrude, was born when Lily Bell was seven years old. She was distraught when that child died, and whether that contributed to her nervousness as a young girl can only be speculated upon at this point. Neither Frances nor Lily Bell ever married.
Lily Bell was always very good at sketching and devoted a great deal of her time to developing her artistic skills. Her maternal grandfather was the Canadian author, historian and past President of The Royal Society of Canada, Sir James McPherson Le Moine (1825-1912).
Lily Bell studied art at Les Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Quebec City under Henry Ivan Neilson (Professor of Painting, Drawing and Anatomy), as well as with instructor and noted Canadian artist Jean Paul Lemieux. It was said: “Although Miss Rhodes painted for her own enjoyment and is not a listed artist, her competency of composition, perspective and palette … underscores an undeniable and elevated degree of ability.”
But in Tadoussac she was remembered for being very soft-spoken and sweet. She adored children and would take her young nieces on walks in the woods, telling them the names of all the flowers and mushrooms they could find, and firing their imaginations by insisting there were fairies dancing under each of them. Not surprisingly she was a great gardener along with her sister, Frances, and loved animals, particularly dogs which she used to sketch often. She even had a favourite white sweater made from the fur of a long-haired dachshund she used to own. She would often be seen sitting very still on a log or rock under a shapeless sunhat quietly sketching some composition that had caught her eye. Many of these sketches became very small paintings that were often given to her many cousins in Tadoussac.
In the summers she usually stayed with her cousin, Lennox Williams, for a week or so, and then after he died, she was made welcome in the home of her friend, Grace Scott. Looking back now, one can only imagine there was a depth to her which few of us knew. What we remember is her loving kindness and her reverence for nature. And some of us are still trying to collect her delightful paintings when they come available.

Alan Evans

Quotation from: ernestjohnsonantiques.com

See many Photos of LILY's ART at https://www.tidesoftadoussac.com/lilybell-rhodes

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