F.H. Varley

Portrait of a Woman, Vera c. 1930,

Conte crayon on board
15 x 12 in

From the Estate of Vera Weatherbie, December 1980
Masters Gallery Ltd. Calgary
Private Collection Vancouver, B.C.

A Passion for Art: Works from Private Collections,
December 3, 1994 to January 29, 1995,
Glenbow Museum, Calgary, A.B.

Frederick Horsman Varley, Group of Seven member, left his teaching position at the Ontario College of Art in 1926 and moved to Vancouver to become Department Head of Drawing and Painting at the School of Decorative and Applied Arts. It was here that Varley first met the 18 year old Vera Weatherbie who was enrolled at the school. First as a student then as a model Vera became a great inspiration for Varley.

From 1930-1936 Vera was virtually the only model that Varley used for drawing and painting.

"Vera was the greatest single influence in my life," said Varley. "Without knowing it she made me see color in new lights.”
Varley used Vera as a model for many of his most highly prized paintings and sketches including “Vera” (National Gallery of Canada) and “Dharana” (Art Gallery of Ontario).

“I learnt more of Art, true Art in those years (in B.C.) than
at any other period-You taught me. I’m afraid I did not give
you 50-50 - The most precious moments of work and understanding
were then-& always I have kept the belief that soon I can prove
how much your comradeship has meant to me-I have not yet acquired
the art of getting over all the snags. Whether I have or not I treasure
the many things you did for me or by your influence made me do."

Excerpt from a Varley letter to Vera dated November 8, 1939, referred to by
Peter Ohler Sr. verso on this drawing.