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Mary Wrinch: Painted from Life

July 18, 2024 - October 20, 2024

Third Floor

Mary Evelyn Wrinch. Untitled, watercolour on ivory, c. 1910. Collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Gift of Rheta and Gordon Conn, Richmond Hill, 1973. 73/12.4.


Like most historical women artists, Wrinch was not fully acknowledged during her lifetime. In addition to highlighting a collection of unique miniature portraits that have never been shown, Mary Wrinch: Painted from Life will shed light on a lesser-known, yet highly influential Toronto artist. The AGO and AWE are invested in filling gaps of representation and this exhibition is one such occasion to address such lacunae. This exhibition centres on a collection of 19 watercolour miniature portraits on ivory, which, prior to the AGO’s 2020 exhibition, have never been shown to the public. These will be complemented by two watercolour on ivory paintings by Mary Wrinch from AWE’s collection. The miniatures demonstrate the breadth of talent the artist possessed, her command of colour, and the risks she took throughout her career. Subthemes will include Wrinch’s technical process of miniature painting and questions around the ethical display of ivory by institutions.

Mary Wrinch: Painted from Life is organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The Exhibition is curated by Renée van der Avoird, Associate Curator, Canadian Art at the AGO.


About the artist

Mary Evelyn Wrinch (b. 1877 Kirby-le-Soken, d. 1969 Toronto) was an England-born Toronto artist, known for her miniature watercolours, colour block prints and oil paintings. She trained as a professional artist from a young age in Toronto under such influences as Laura Muntz and George Reid, and studied miniature painting in both London and New York. She was an active member of the early artist community at Wychwood Park, making her home at Upland Cottage until the end of her life. She became the second wife of G.A. Reid in 1922. In addition to other artists’ societies, she was the first woman to be elected to the executive of the Ontario Society of Artists in 1924. Wrinch taught art lessons at Bishop Strachan School for over 30 years and was an influence to many in Toronto and beyond.

Wrinch is an overlooked artist whose contribution to Canadian art deserves better recognition. Working at a time when it was difficult for women to make a living as artists, Wrinch eschewed diminishing expectations of women’s roles and proved that it was, indeed, possible to pursue art as a woman. She was particularly influential in the landscape genre, painting en plein air in northern regions a decade ahead of the Group of Seven.

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