After capturing Louisa May Alcott’s legacy in a haunting portrait, Canadian artist Malcolm Hollyman has generously donated his work to Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House.
Working off of a familiar daguerreotype of the Little Women author, Mr. Hollyman sought to portray Louisa’s complex life beyond that of a best-selling children’s author. “I wanted to paint her without veneer. Her eyes show some hardship,” he said. “She was a young woman who put herself in horrible surroundings during the civil war. Hospitals during the war were beyond imagination regarding the sanitary conditions and the suffering.” He added that Alcott “volunteered to tend wounded soldiers and even mended their clothes.” His painting also lauds her courage as a pioneer for women’s rights.
Mr. Hollyman also added personal touches, revealing Louisa’s sarcastic sense of humor. “I love that she had impishly answered the door disguised as a maid to avoid those she did not want to engage with,” he said. “I tried to put these things into her face in the painting, a slight muse on her lips reminding me of a kind of Yankee Mona Lisa.”
The artist has granted full permission to Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House to reproduce the painting as they wish. “My thoughts are to have the museum possibly use the picture’s image in their marketing,” he said, “such as lawn flags, coasters, mugs, napkins, etc., to sell to visitors as souvenirs of their visit to Orchard House. I hope it contributes to their revenue and to the respect and memory of Louisa May Alcott.”
About Mr. Hollyman
Malcolm (“Max”) Hollyman lives in London, Ontario. He was born in Cippenham, England, and immigrated to Luton, Ontario, Canada, in 1955.
Mr. Hollyman does not recall a time when he wasn’t painting. In 1992 he sent The Duke of Edinburgh a watercolor rendition of an African elephant standing over his mate shot by a poacher. “I sent him the painting because of his work in conserving the African elephant,” he said. “Prince Philip happily accepted the painting, sending me a letter thanking me.”
Mr. Hollyman also has paintings in the archives of Leonard Cohen and the Canadian rock star Brian Vollmer of the band Helix.
Mr. Hollyman describes his mediums as watercolors and oils. “I have a varied range of subject matter, with a special interest in the sea and historical scenes of ships of sail,” he said. “I paint to tell a story not just for the viewer’s amusement but to touch the viewer in some way.”
He shared some of his favorite paintings for this blog post.
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