Before settling in Canada in 1913, the German-born Minna Keene (1861–1943) worked in South Africa and England where she gained widespread recognition producing portraits, still lifes, landscape and nature studies, and scenes of everyday life. Keene was heavily influenced by Pictorialism—the leading artistic movement in photography beginning in the 1890s—and her lighting style and compositions deliberately echoed those of nineteenth-century British and French painting. In 1908, Keene became the first woman admitted to England’s prestigious Royal Photographic Society. Her work was regularly included in the Society’s annual exhibitions, and shown in numerous Canadian and international publications.
Violet Keene Perinchief (1893–1987) learned photography alongside her mother, apprenticing in Minna’s studio and accompanying her on a 1914 trip to document the landscapes of Western Canada for the Canadian Pacific Railway. As the manager of Eaton’s Portrait Studio in Toronto between 1933 and 1948, and at the family’s long-running studio in Oakville, Ontario, Violet specialized in portraits of local clients and notable personalities, such as Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, and Former Prime Minister of Canada, R. B. Bennet. Like her mother, Keene Perinchief was influenced by the Pictorialist sensibility, seen in her compositions drawn from European paintings and use of chiaroscuro and haloing lighting effects.