Mary E. Wrinch, portrait of a woman holding a flask, watercolour

Mary E. Wrinch, Untitled portrait, date unknown. Watercolour on ivory, Overall (sight): 9.5 x 7 cm. Gift of Rheta and Gordon Conn, Richmond Hill, 1973. © Art Gallery of Ontario 73/12.4

Mary Wrinch: Painted From Life

September 26, 2020 to March 28, 2021

Located on the second level in the Joan & Jerry Lozinski Gallery (gallery 247) and the R. Samuel McLaughlin Gallery (gallery 201)

Admission is always FREE for AGO Members, AGO Annual Pass Holders & Visitors 25 and under. Learn more.

EXHIBITION OVERVIEW

Mary Wrinch: Painted From Life is the first public display of the AGO’s watercolour miniature portraits on ivory, painted by Mary Wrinch in the early 1900s.

Wrinch was a prominent figure in the early Toronto, male-dominated, art scene and was among the first women in the city to make a living from her art. Adventurous and independent, she was known for her daring use of colour, precise compositions, and explorations into the northern regions of Ontario, where she would later be followed by members of the Group of Seven.

To set herself apart from other miniature portraitists, Wrinch highlighted the fact that her portraits were painted from life, not photographs. She sold her commissioned portraits for $30 each, affording her financial independence in a time when this was rarely done. Wrinch was said to value colour above all else in her art. She used colour to express the modern spirit of the sitters in her portraits, who were members of the Toronto arts community. While their identities are unknown today, the women’s unique styles tell us much about feminine self-expression in this period.

The collection of miniature portraits is complemented by a selection of Wrinch’s linoblock prints and examples of her highly technical print-making method. The exhibition is part of the AGO’s commitment to amplifying under-represented voices and increasing exposure to art by women.


ARTWORKS FROM THE EXHIBITION

Mary E. Wrinch, portrait of a woman holding a flask, watercolour

Mary E. Wrinch, Untitled portrait, date unknown. Watercolour on ivory, Overall (sight): 9.5 x 7 cm. Gift of Rheta and Gordon Conn, Richmond Hill, 1973. © Art Gallery of Ontario 73/12.4

Mary Wrinch: Painted From Life 1
Mary E. Wrinch, Northern Bloodroot

Mary E. Wrinch, Northern Bloodroot, 1928-1929. Colour linocut on paper, Sheet: 31 × 26.8 cm. Gift of Mary Wrinch Reid, 1969 (Mary E. Wrinch). © Art Gallery of Ontario 69/222

Mary Wrinch: Painted From Life 2
watercolour, Young Woman with Dark Curly Upswept Hair

Mary E. Wrinch, Untitled portrait, date unknown. Watercolour on ivory. Overall (oval): 5.4 x 6.4 cm (2 1/8 x 2 1/2 in). Gift of Rheta and Gordon Conn, Richmond Hill, 1973. C. Art Gallery of Ontario. 73/12.5 © Art Gallery of Ontario

Mary Wrinch: Painted From Life 3
watercolour, Young Lady with Large Hat

Mary E. Wrinch, Untitled portrait, date unknown. Watercolour on ivory. Overall (oval): 7.6 x 6.3 cm (3 x 2 1/2 in). Gift of Rheta and Gordon Conn, Richmond Hill, 1973. C. Art Gallery of Ontario. 13/12.17 © Art Gallery of Ontario

Mary Wrinch: Painted From Life 4
Mary Wrinch, untitled portrait, date unknown, watercolour on ivory. Collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Gift of Rheta and Gordon Conn, Richmond Hill, 1973. 73/12.5; 73/12.12

Mary E. Wrinch, Untitled portrait, date unknown. Watercolour on ivory. Overall: 6.4 × 5.1 cm (2 1/2 × 2 in). Gift of Rheta and Gordon Conn, Richmond Hill, 1973. C. Art Gallery of Ontario. 72/12.12 © Art Gallery of Ontario

Mary Wrinch: Painted From Life 5

Mary Wrinch: Painted From Life - past events

PAST TALKS AND EVENTS

Talks
Close Looking: Mary Wrinch's Miniature Watercolours
Monday, September 28, 11 am

Join Erin Stodola, Curatorial Intern, and Renée van der Avoird, Assistant Curator of Canadian Art, as they discuss historical Canadian artist Mary Wrinch’s miniature watercolours on ivory. Mary Wrinch (1877-1969) was a prominent figure in the early Toronto, male-dominated, art scene and was among the first women in the city to make a living from her art. With luminous colour and exquisite brushwork, she expressed the modern spirit of the sitters in her portraits, who were members of the Toronto arts community…

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