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 William (Will) Abernathy Ogilvie  (1901 - 1989)



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Lived/Active: Ontario/Quebec / Canada      Known for: painting, commercial art, murals and teaching

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
Road to Dainzu (Mexico), 10" x 14.5", watercolour,ink and graphite on paper, signed and titled on verso, circa 1971
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
William (Will) Abernathy Ogilvie RCA, CGP, CSPWC, OBE, CM (1901–1989)

William Abernathy Ogilvie was a painter, commercial artist, muralist and educator who was born in Stutterheim, Cape Province, South Africa.  He emigrated to Toronto, Canada in 1925, which, except for a brief period in Montreal, is where he lived the rest of his life and died.
His mediums were oil, acrylic, watercolour, pastel, coloured chalk, ink, graphite and mixed mediums.  His subjects were Canadian landscapes, figures, nudes, urban scenes, South Africa, genre and, as a war artist, military and war.  His style was representational, realism and fauvism.
He studied in Johannesburg (1921 – 1924) under Erich Mayer (see AskART) and at the Art Students League of New York  (1927 – 1930) under Kimon Nicolaides (see AskART).  From 1938 to 1941, he headed the School of Art at the Art Association of Montreal (renamed Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1948) where he taught painting and drawing.  During World War II, he served as an official war artist in England, Scotland, Sicily, Italy and North–West Europe.

After the war he was a professor at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto (1947-57), teaching painting and murals and was a lecturer on historic painting techniques at the University of Toronto (1960 - 1969).  He has also travelled to Greece, Italy (1957), South Africa (1954), western Canada (1958) and Mexico (1971).
He was a founding member and President (1948) of the Canadian Group of Painters (see AskART glossary).  He was also a member of the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour, the Canadian Society of Graphic Artists, and he was an associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.  As alluded to above he served with the Canadian Army in World War II as a commissioned officer.
In addition to exhibiting with the above organizations he has exhibited at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in (1931), the Tate (London) in 1938, the New York World’s Fair (1939) and the National Gallery of Canada’s  War Art Exhibition (1945-1946). His work has also been exhibited in Brussels (1944), Rio De Janeiro (1946), Johannesburg (1954) and in numerous commercial gallery shows in Canada from the 1930’s to the present.
His works are in numerous private, corporate and public collections.  Some of the public collections are the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ontario), the London Regional Art Gallery (Ontario), the Winnipeg Art Gallery (Manitoba), the Edmonton Art Gallery (Alberta), the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (B.C.), the Sarnia Public Art Gallery (Ontario), Hart House (Toronto), the Tom Thomson Memorial Gallery (Owen Sound, Ontario), the Canadian War Museum (Ottawa) and the Royal Collection in the Library at Windsor Castle (England). An example of his murals can be seen at the Hart House Chapel at the University of Toronto.

His honours and awards include the Order of Canada (CM) and the Order of the British Empire (MBE).
As a prominent artist his work is discussed in many books about Canadian art history, and there are numerous magazine and newspaper articles. He is listed in A Dictionary of Canadian Artists (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald, published by Canadian Paperbacks Ltd. (8 volumes); in The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar, published by Westbridge Publications Ltd. (4 volumes); in Jaques Cattell Press, Who's Who in American Art 15th Edition (1982), published by R.R.Bowker Co. (1204 pgs); and in The Canadian Encyclopedia (1985), Hurtig Publishers Ltd. (3 volumes, 2089 pgs).

His work is discussed and illustrated in; The Development of Canadian Art (1964), by R.H. Hubbard, published by The National Gallery of Canada (137 pgs; colour and B&W); in Four Decades (1972) by Paul Duval, published by Clark Irwin & Co. Ltd. (191 pgs, colour); in Painting in Canada: A History (1966) by J. Russell Harper, published by University of Toronto Press (463 pgs, B&W); in A Concise History of Canadian Painting (1973), by Dennis Reid, Oxford University Press (319 pgs, B&W); in Great Canadian Painting – A Century of Art (1966), by Elizabeth Kilbourn, published by The Canadian Centennial Publishing Co. Ltd. (128 pgs, colour and B&W); in Passionate Spirits: A History of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, 1880-1980 (1980), by Rebecca Sisler, published by Clarke, Irwin (Toronto) (296 pgs,colour and B&W); in Art Gallery of Ontario – the Canadian Collection (1970), by Helen Pepall Bradfield, published by McGraw-Hill Co. of Canada Ltd. (603 pgs, B&W); and in The Nude in Canadian Painting (1972), by Jerrold Morris, published by New Press, Toronto (89 pgs, colour and B&W).
Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke

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