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Emily Sartain (Sartain is pronounced as if rhyming with “certain”)
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
15 May 1903 - 18 July 1990

Welcome to emilysartain.ca, a website dedicated to the life and works of Emily Sartain, Canada's distinguished Natural History painter of Wild flowers.

Emily was a traditional watercolor painter who prepared floral portraits with a delicacy and accuracy most other flower painters could not duplicate; a painter who achieved an exceptional international recognition within her lifetime that can be matched by very few other Canadian artists.

Emily Sartain changed the way that people in the Western world saw and thought about the wildflowers of Canada. A story is attached to each of her works, many of which were privately commissioned.

about emily
Her specialty is flowers. Her paintings have been purchased by Royalty, nobility and by prominent people in society.

After turning professional in 1931, her fourth painting “Summer Flowers” was exhibited at the 1932 Society of Woman Artists Exhibition. This painting was purchased by the Patron, Her Majesty Queen Mary. Other Royal Commissions were received in subsequent years.

She was honoured by The Royal Horticultural Society as the only person who had seen and painted studies of EPIPOGIUM APHYLLUM, a very rare orchid that blooms only once every 20 years. Hon. Lewis Palmer (Treasurer of the Royal Horticultural Society), opened her 1954 show with this tribute “Miss Sartain is one of the greatest flower painters of our time”.

Sartain searched elsewhere for many other rare native plants that were facing extinction and painted those also.

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According to her handwritten records, Sartain painted 5,000 water colours of various sizes, mostly on a commission basis, plus six oil paintings (during the 1930’s as an experiment). She also painted landscapes and animals. Only a few of her friends actually viewed those landscapes. Only a few photographs survive of her landscapes. Her landscape paintings and six oil paintings are very rare. She received a Royal commission to embroider 12 silk patterns for a carpet. In Fareham, England - she embroidered a large, still displayed banner for the Children’s Church (1931). Sartain made all her own clothes. She also wrote credible poetry and made stuffed animals using the inherited skills from her Huguenot ancestry. As a gift to her friend of over 40 years, Betty Steggles, she crocheted several pillow covers. Her very last painting on May 15, 1990 was of a cat. It was presented as a birthday gift to her friend, the Late Frank Steggles. This can be seen in the Gallery section.