(1860 – 1947)
An important early member of the Royal Canadian Academy and the first principal of the Ontario College of Art, Reid was also an advocate for the formation of the National Gallery of Canada. He and other artists of his generation began the transition from a British and European style of painting in Canada towards the founding of a truly Canadian aesthetic.
George A. Reid
Born: Born in Wingham, Ontario, 25 July 1860
Died: Died in Toronto, Ontario, 23 August 1947
“The fine arts should be regarded as the crowning glory of all the arts, equally necessary and useful to man, who in his desire to reach the perfect existence, with the joy of life as the spring of his impulses, draws from nature about him every element possible which will contribute to his pleasure and satisfaction.” 1929
George A. Reid created oil and watercolour paintings depicting scenes of rural life, historical events and landscapes, in addition to illustrating books and designing furniture and small buildings. As president of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, he petitioned the government regarding the “importance and usefulness of an energetically administered National Gallery.” He was also a leading proponent of mural paintings in Canadian buildings.
As a young man, Reid drew the animals he encountered growing up on his family’s farm. After briefly apprenticing with an architect, he became a very successful art student under Robert Harris in Toronto. Reid continued his studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where he met his first wife, Mary Hiester. After completing his studies in Philadelphia, he received training from Benjamin Constant at the Académie Julian in Paris. Upon his return to Toronto, he became an established artist and teacher at the Central Ontario School of Art and Industrial Design and was the first principal of its successor, the Ontario College of Art.
Reid created a studio in the attic of his home where he created the scenes for many of his paintings, including Mortgaging the Homestead. His success as a teacher and artist allowed him to summer at a cottage in the Catskill Mountains where he painted Tannersville in the Catskills and Dreaming. He also took several international excursions to view collections and visit art schools. The popularity of murals in Europe and the United States inspired him to propose numerous mural installations upon his return. Ave Canada was a model for a decorative scheme proposed for the Parliament Buildings in 1907.
Courtesy The National Gallery of Canada