- 1880-1987, predominant 1940-1969 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
74 cm of textual records 206 photographs
Name of creator
Frederick Horsman Varley, painter, was born in Sheffield, England in 1881. He studied at the Sheffield School of Art 1892–1900, and at the Koninklijk Akademie voor Shone Kunsten (Académie royale des beaux-arts) in Antwerp for the following two years. After working as an illustrator and art teacher in England, he immigrated to Canada and obtained work as a commercial illustrator in Toronto in 1912, the same year he first exhibited his art work at the Canadian National Exhibition. In 1914, Varley joined Tom Thomson, A.Y. Jackson and Arthur Lismer on sketching trip to Algonquin Park in Ontario. Some of his most famous works resulted from his association with these artists. He participated in the War Art program after the war in 1918 and was a founding member of the Group of Seven in 1920. Although he painted numerous landscapes, his interest lay more in portraiture, which he pursued during the 1920s. Varley moved to Vancouver in 1926 to teach at the School of Decorative and Applied Arts. His landscapes from this period are marked by fine draftsmanship, exotic colour and unusual vantage points. In 1933 he and J.W.G. Macdonald opened their own school, the British Columbia College of Arts, which closed in 1935. Varley lived subsequently in Ottawa and Montreal, returning in 1944 to Toronto. The Art Gallery of Ontario held a retrospective of his work in 1954. He died in Toronto in 1969. Varley was a member of the Arts and Letters Club, Toronto. His work is in numerous Canadian public collections.
The material now constituting the Frederick Varley fonds was inherited by Kathleen McKay from the creator.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Fonds was donated by Kathleen McKay to the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1989 and 1990.
Content and structure area
Scope and content
The fonds consists chiefly of correspondence (professional and personal); diaries and address books, inventories; financial records; photographs of artworks and family; and miscellaneous papers.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
No further accruals are expected.
System of arrangement
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Conditions governing reproduction
Frederick Varley’s copyright of material in this fonds is administered by the Art Gallery of Ontario. Please contact the archivist for information. Copyright belonging to other parties, such as that of photographs, may still rest with the creator of these items. It is the researcher’s responsibility to obtain permission for the reproduction of any part of the fonds.
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
A detailed inventory is available.