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Art Archives, Mary Wrinch: Painted From Life

By Hailey Rolston

Fri., March 18, 2022 | reading time 3 minutes ⏰

The watercolour miniature portraits on ivory in the early 1900s were exhibited for the first time in the public eye in Mary Wrinch: Painted From Life.

Wrinch was an essential character in the early Toronto art scene, which males dominated, and was one of the city's first female artists to make a living from her artwork. Her recognition for her bold use of colour, precise compositions, and expeditions into the northern parts of Ontario, where the Group of Seven members would eventually follow her.

Wrinch used the fact that her portraits were painted from life rather than pictures to distinguish herself apart from other portraitists. She achieved financial independence by selling her commissioned prints for $30 per piece, which was unusual at the time.

Wrinch was known to place high importance on colour in her work. She successfully employed colour to portray the current attitude of her clients in her portraits. While the women's names are unknown now, their distinct styles reveal a lot about female self-expression at the time.

A selection of Wrinch's lino block prints and demonstrations of her extremely technical print-making process are displayed alongside the miniature portraits. This portrait in the AGO aims to elevate under-represented perspectives and increase women's access to art.

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