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Date(s) - 04/13/2024
All Day

Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd.




In 1965, The Star Weekly magazine and CBC-TV both shone a spotlight on the little-known, self-taught Nova Scotia folk artist Maud Lewis (1901-1970). Her world suddenly changed. Now, Ms. Lewis’s letters handwritten to a friend in London, Ontario will come up for bid at Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd., this coming Saturday, April 13th, beginning promptly at 10 am Eastern time. The auction will be online-only. Details of Maud Lewis’s secluded and impoverished life in Marshalltown – where she and her husband Everett shared a tiny one-room house with no electricity or running water – became public knowledge. She complained about receiving more than 300 letters after all the publicity and evidently had no plans to answer them. While it’s believed Maud Lewis had few correspondents during that time, there is one man she confided in. She wrote to him, and he wrote her back. He also sent her packages of badly-needed art supplies. His name was John H. Kinnear, of London, Ontario. In his book The Illuminated Life of Maud Lewis, author Lance Woolaver writes, “Maud was not a careerist, and she valued those friends, like Ontario painter John Kinnear, who corresponded with her regularly, far more than an order from a Premier or President.” An artist himself, Kinnear had read The Star Weekly story and was captured by Lewis’s plight. He was deeply moved by her circumstances, her poverty and her severe disabilities. But he also recognized her extraordinary talent and took it upon himself to do what he could to help. And so began their friendship and rare correspondence, which lasted five years until Lewis died of pneumonia in 1970. Kinnear’s daughter Sheila M. Kinnear, also an artist, remembers that relationship and inherited many of the letters sent to her father by Maud Lewis. Dating between 1966 and 1967, the remaining six hand-written letters she saved are being offered in Miller & Miller’s April 13th Canadiana & Historic Objects sale. The group carries an estimate of $3,500-5,000. Each letter provides a rare window into Lewis’s life and her daily struggle as a modest artist with newly found fame. To learn more, please visit

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