Saturday, July 18, 2015

FemArt Friday: Mary Evelyn Wrinch (1877-1969)

At the end of June I became aware that the Ottawa Art Gallery was featuring an exhibit of artist Mary E. Wrinch from May 30 to August 30.

The exhibition is accompanied by the e-publication Female Self-Representation and the Public Trust: Mary E. Wrinch and the AGW Collection, authored by Dr. Catharine M. Mastin, supplied in downloadable PDF format here.



I love learning about women artists and I am particularly drawn to women who are referred to as "atypical for their generation". Mary Evelyn was certainly that.

She postponed marriage until almost in her fifties and, when she did marry, she married an artist and she enjoyed a positive painting partnership with her husband. (She insisted on being known as M.E. Wrinch and not Mrs.Reid, as she was often referred)

Mary E. Wrinch
(photo source: National Gallery)

Above is the only picture that I could find of her (at the National Gallery). I wondered if she disliked having her photo taken? She certainly appears to be unhappy having this one taken.

I set off to the Ottawa Art Gallery to see some of her work and learn more about her. 

Ottawa Art Gallery
Mary Evelyn (Reid) Wrinch was active and lived in Ontario, Canada.  Mary Wrinch is known for her painting, miniatures, and printmaking. At the Art Gallery of Ottawa I was able to see two examples of her miniatures on ivory and they were stunning in their small size and detail!

Miniature on Ivory

Artist, Educator & Property Owner
(an atypical woman for her generation)


Art Studio, Bishop Strachan School, Toronto, ca. 1915,
where Mary Wrinch taught art classes from 1901-36.
Photograph courtesy Bishop Strachan School Archives.

 Mary "was an important artist working in Toronto during the first half of the twentieth century. As a single woman she earned her living as an art educator, presiding over the art department at Bishop Strachan School, Toronto where she worked from 1901 to 1936. Prior to the Group of Seven’s interest in Ontario’s northern landscapes, Wrinch was an outdoor enthusiast and owned a two storey cottage at Kingwood, Lake of Bays, where she canoed and sketched." (Source: OAG)




"Somehow our Canadian landscapes 
call for a big canvas and 
for direct, out of door painting. 
When you do it small, 
you lose much of its very essence." 

"In 1906, Wrinch's visits to a friend's cottage on Lake Muskoka amid the rivers, lakes, and forested landscape north of Toronto, inspired a radical change in her art. Without preliminary sketches, she now painted directly from nature on canvases over a metre high and wide. At the 1907 OSA exhibition, she showed Sawmill, Muskoka, which was subsequently purchased by the Government of Ontario. Interviewed about her painting in the Toronto Star in 1913, she said, "Somehow our Canadian landscapes call for a big canvas and for direct, out of door painting. When you do it small, you lose much of its very essence." Expanding the techniques used for miniature painting, Wrinch continued to juxtapose colours, rather than blending them, endowing her compositions with an energetic vitality." (Source: CHIN)

Mary Wrinch, Sawmill Dorset - Collection of the Art Gallery of Windsor
(oil on canvas  83.7 x 86.2 cm)

"In the Winter months, Wrinch worked in Toronto at her Wychwood Park studio.




At the Ottawa art gallery I loved this painting (below). I love the palette that she used for this one and "The Sawmill"



"In 1922, at 45 years of age, Wrinch married her former teacher, George A. Reid. The two traveled Northern Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia on painting trips.


Artist George Agnew Reid

Linoleum Block Printing


In 1928, at the age of 51, Wrinch's style changed again. She began experimenting with linoleum block printing, interpreting the landscapes of her paintings into intricate prints that featured rich colours and strong outlines. She was also very interested in studying flowers and many of the prints feature flowers from her own garden." (Source: McNaught Gallery Newsletter June 2014)


I had not seen this linoblock print (below) before and I must say it is my favorite. I have often thought, when I am out plein air painting, how much the landscape lends itself beautifully to the linoleum block. And in this one, Mary has captured the landcape beautifully.

"The Stream" by M.E. Wrinch

Mary Wrinch Wins First Prize 


The Toronto Daily Mail
Nov. 7, 1894
Source: https://curve.carleton.ca/system/files/theses/27851.pdf


Inspiring Women: A Celebration of Herstory
By Mona Holmlund, Gail Youngberg, Margaret Eleanor Atwood

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