"The part of the country which is my real locale is a little lake in the Laurentians... this beautiful little lake. A very deep, clear, cold water... And the country around this puddle was very undulating. It seemed to have little hills, and little ravines so that, without going for more than a very short distance, you could sit down, turn your back and you would have a complete new composition."
(Anne Savage, 1967)
Known for her lyrical, rhythmic landscapes, Anne Savage was one of several important women artists who were active in Montreal after the First World War. She shared with the Group of Seven a romantic vision of the Canadian landscape as a symbol of nationalism, as well as a modernist concern for the formal elements of painting. Savage was also an inspiring and innovative art teacher, who counted among her students Alfred Pinsky, the first Dean of Fine Arts at Concordia University, and the painters Rita Briansky and Moe Reinblatt.
Anne Savage studied from 1914 to 1918 under William Brymner and Maurice Cullen at the Art Association of Montreal. There, in 1919, she was able to see Tom Thomson's oil sketches, and soon came to identify herself strongly with the Group of Seven. In her final year of studies, she exhibited her work at the Art Association. She then went on to work as a medical artist in Montreal and Toronto, and spent ten months at the Minneapolis School of Art. In 1920, she helped form Montreal's Beaver Hall Group and met A.Y. Jackson, who opened the group's first exhibition and became a lifelong friend. In 1927, Savage travelled with the sculptor Florence Wyle and ethnographer Marius Barbeau to the Skeena River district of British Columbia. Her sketchbook from that trip is held in the National Gallery of Canada. In 1933, she became a founding member of the Canadian Group of Painters.
Savage's career as an art teacher began in 1922. She was first hired at Montreal's Commercial and Technical High School, but within the year was transferred to the newly opened Baron Byng High School, on St. Urbain Street. Her work there was highly regarded and came to the attention of Arthur Lismer, also a committed art educator. Savage remained at Baron Byng for twenty-six years. In 1948, she was appointed Supervisor of Art for the Protestant School Board of Montreal, and in the 1950s, taught art education at McGill University.
Early works by Anne Savage, such as Untitled (Stream in Spring) (c.1918) show the influence of the Group of Seven. Untitled (Laurentian Hills with Barn) (c.1932-1935) demonstrates the rhythmic quality of Savage's work, and fluid brushwork.