March 13, 1917 Ontario Society of Artist’s Report

March 13, 1917

The Society entered upon its Forty-fifty Year with the Annual Meeting, which was held on March 14th, 1916.

The following officers were elected:
President – C. W. Jefferys.
Vice-President and Treasurer – J. E. H. MacDonald.
Secretary – R. F. Gagen.
Auditors – James Smith and R. J. Dilworth.
Executive Council – T. W. Mitchell, Mary H. Reid, Robert Holmes, Arthur Lismer, T. G. Greene, H. S. Palmer, F. M. Bell-Smith.
New Members Elected – Estelle Kerr, Marion Long, Ernest Fosbery, F. Horsman Varley.
Representatives to the Canadian National Exhibition – T. G. Greene and F. M. Bell-Smith.

The Forty-fourth Annual Exhibition of the Society was held in the galleries of the Toronto Art Museum at the Public Library, from March 11th to April 15th, 1916. It comprised 134 paintings in oil and water color, 38 etchings, drawings, etc., and 12 pieces of sculpture, contributed by 67 exhibitors. The Committee of Selection and Arrangement consisted of Miss Dorothy Stevens, Mr. H. S. Palmer and Mr. J. E. H. MacDonald. The Exhibition was attended by about 4,000 visitors.

The Trustees of the National Gallery purchased the following works:

Britain’s Domain – W. M. Cutts $750.00
Snow II – Lawren Harris $600.00
Willow Creek, August – C. W. Jefferys $75.00
The Barn, Winter – Manly MacDonald $100.00
Spring Ice – Tom Thomson $300.00
Fairy Sleep -Dudley Ward $75.00
Total $1,900.00

Forty-Fifth Annual Report
Very few private sales were made, and the Ontario Government ‘ as last year, made no purchases. War time economies, no doubt, are responsible for these reductions, and the artists of Canada, both individually and collectively through their associations, are feeling the pressure and bearing their full share of the burdens which the great conflict is putting upon our country. Under these circumstances the encouragement which the Dominion Government, through the Trustees of the National Gallery, continues to give to native art is all the more necessary and welcome. We trust that its work in this direction will continue and increase, and also that the Ontario Government will now, or in the very near future, find it possible to resume the support of the native art of the Province, which has so materially assisted its growth in the past.

The Fine Arts Exhibit at the Canadian National Exhibition this year consisted of French and Belgian pictures, sculpture, etchings and drawings from the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition, a gallery of current Canadian pictures, and a collection of graphic and applied art from Canada- and the United States. The French and Belgian exhibit, though by no means fully representative of the contemporary art of these countries, was extremely interesting and especially useful to the student of present day tendencies in painting. The Canadian section, both in painting and in graphic art, was unusually large, and of a high standard of excellence. It is therefore to be regretted that the Directors of the Canadian National Exhibition should not have given the art of our country that encouragement which artists and public alike have a right to expect from such a body. The expenditure of $5,000.00 for foreign art, however worthy, and of only $650.00 for Canadian pictures, presents a disparity that has aroused much criticism. A policy of such discrimination, if continued, will make it extremely difficult for the Exhibition to secure the best work of Canadian artists, and seriously impair its character as a factor in the development of national production in the fine arts.

The year has been marked by some important changes in the local art situation. in May the Society was informed that the Public Library Board had terminated its agreement with the Toronto Art Museum, which permitted the use of its galleries for current exhibition purposes, as they were required for the Library’s permanent collection of historical prints and pictures. The Board, at some considerable inconvenience to its own arrangements, kindly offered the Ontario Society of Artists the use of its old premises for the Annual Exhibition of 1917.’ The Society, therefore, has gladly availed itself of the opportunity which has made possible the present exhibition. The situation thus created, however, made more pressing the need of an adequate art gallery for the city, and the Museum decided to proceed immediately with the erection of a unit of its proposed building. Work on the new galleries was commenced November lst, and construction has already been carried to a point which promises its completion within the present year. It is gratifying to know that we have in sight a building which will give ample accommodation for the exhibition of pictures under proper conditions of light and space, amid harmonious surroundings, and with conveniences for their handling which hitherto have been lacking in Toronto. The Museum has continued its practice of holding small exhibitions throughout the year in the Grange Building. There have included collections of American illustrations, American wood block prints, lithographs from the Ottawa National Gallery, an exhibition of work by the students of the Ontario College of Art, and an exhibition of Canadian etchings and lithographs. These exhibitions have diffused a knowledge of the various pictorial arts that is extremely useful, and the attendance shows an increasing interest on the part of the public that is most encouraging.

In June the Society received notice that the premises which they had occupied for some years at 28 College Street had been sold, and that they must seek other quarters. After inspecting several possibilities, the Society finally secured rooms at 707 Yonge Street.

The Revised Constitution was submitted to the Society, and, after a full discussion, was adopted and printed, and copies are now in the hands of the members.

The Society maintains its connection with the Ontario College of Art, and is represented on its Council by Messrs. Bell-Smith and Gagen, who were re-elected during the year,

Forty-Fifth Annual Report
The College is still cramped in its operations by inadequate space and insufficient financial support, and not much, relief can be anticipated until after the war.

We have lost this year one of the oldest members of the Society by the death of Mr. Joseph T. Rolph. Though advancing years had prevented his active participation in the affairs of the Society for some time, he maintained his interest in its progress, and the youthful cheerfulness and geniality of his disposition made him the friend of all who knew him.

The Society realizes the need of providing for the families of the soldiers and is anxious to do what it can as a body to help this most worthy cause. It has therefore decided to pay all the expenses in connection with the present exhibition out of its own surplus funds, and to devote the entire proceeds from the sale of admission tickets to the Toronto and York County Patriotic Fund, as a slight recognition of our indebtedness to those who are sacrificing so much for us.

The war has been brought very near to us by the service in the field of two of our members, Private, A. Y. Jackson and Captain Ernest Fosbery. Both of them have been wounded, but art now recovered and again on duty. The Society sends them the assurance of its grateful admiration for their devotion to the cause which so deeply concerns us, and of its earnest good wishes for their future safety and success. I have to thank the members once more for their loyal support in the work of the Society, and to testify to the excellent service of the various committees. We shall continue to feel the strain of war conditions for some time, and there are doubtless anxious and critical months still before us, but the prospect is not without encouragement, and we must look forward confidently to the ‘ achievement of the victorious peace that will permit the resumption of the progress of the arts, which, in Canada, as elsewhere throughout the world, has been so seriously interrupted by the great war.


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