F.H. Varley, Member of the Group of Seven

Frederick Horsman Varley - Archives of Ontario - truenorthfilmproductions

Frederick Varley was born in Sheffield, England, in 1881.  He moved to Canada in 1912 on the advice of his longtime friend Arthur Lismer.  Once in Toronto, Frederick landed a job at Grip Ltd. working alongside Tom Thomson and Arthur Lismer, both of whom were under the direction of J.E.H. MacDonald.  Varley soon met Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Franklin Carmichael, and Frank Johnston.

Varley is considered both the romantic of the Group of Seven and also one of Canada’s greatest portrait artists.  Despite his renown as a portrait artist, Varley is best remembered as a landscape artist and for being one of the founding members of the Group of Seven.

In October, 1914, Varley went on his one and only trip to Algonquin Park at the invitation of Tom Thomson.  On that trip, he found much time to sketch and paint along the shores of Canoe Lake, at the headwaters of the Oxtongue River.

On a beautiful day that fall, Varley combined both his portrait and landscape skills to paint his wife, Maud, on the shores of Canoe Lake.  Varley titled that work “Indian Summer”.  Today, the original of that painting is part of a Private Collection.  Other works of art done by Varley can, however, be seen at the Varley Art Gallery of Markham, Ontario, Canada.

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