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Peter Varley.

Toronto, Key Porter Books, c1983.
207pp, cloth, $50.00.
ISBN 0-919493-114.

Grades 11 and up.
Reviewed by Gary Robertson.

Volume 12 Number 5
1984 September

Frederick Horseman Varley is regarded as one of the giants of Canadian art. His rugged landscapes and introspective portraits have become national icons. This book is the first major publication on Varley, and it is beautiful. There are eighty large colour plates with informative labels and description of each. The text of the book is divided into two parts; one is an appreciation of Varley as an artist and father by his son Peter; and the second part is an historical document of Varley's artistic development. The sections overlap occasionally, but each makes informative reading.

Frederick Varley developed as an artist through initial academic training, commercial art work, and painting trips with Group of Seven members. But his maturity as an artist came with his experience as a war artist in Europe. His paintings at Ypres, Vimy Ridge, and Sanctuary Wood "overflow with a passion evoked by the frustration and anger at the senselessness of war." For a short few years after the war he painted and showed with the Group of Seven. But his real love was portraiture. Varley's search for the spirituality of human beings using a rich and varied palette has left us with masterpieces such as "Gypsy Head," "Women in Green," and "Vera." It is to Varley's credit that, regardless of marital and financial disappointments through his life, he never stopped searching for new artistic ideas and directions.

This book is a fine tribute to the man and his art. It is well-bound, and although expensive, will be a valuable addition to any Canadian art library.

Gary Robertson, Thorn C. I., Regina, SK.
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