Monday, April 4, 2016

Frederick Varley and Norma

Frederick (Fred) Horsman Varley (1881-1969) was a member of Canada's famed Group of Seven artists. A wikipedia entry about him is here, and I wrote a general post about him here.

More recently I wrote about him and his most famous portrait subject, Vera Weatherbie, here. The present post touches on another important subject that I briefly treated in my original Varley post. Her first name is Norma. Her last name seems to be either Park or Parks -- I've seen both versions in various tiny snippets of information on the Internet, but nothing conclusive.

The Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts (now the Emily Carr University of Art and Design) was established in 1925 and not long after that Varley moved to Vancouver, British Columbia to teach there. Around 1929 his students included Weatherbie and Norma.

Below are three or four of his versions of Norma. If anyone could supply more information regarding Norma, I would greatly appreciate it if that could be included in a comment to this post.


I am not sure that this painting is of Norma. The subject has a bobbed hairdo like those seen on known portraits of Norma, but such hairdos were common during the 1920s.

This is either a study for a painting of Norma or an abandoned attempt. It is on the reverse side of the painting below.

Norma as seen in an unusual composition with her at the upper-left corner of the painting and looking out beyond the frame.

I wish I could have found a larger version of this portrait of Norma. The neck appears exaggerated (compare to the previous painting), and I quibble with the lighting down towards the tip of her nose. Nevertheless, a striking portrait of a striking young woman.

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