William Ronald, RCA, 1926-1998

I Dream of the Sea | William Ronald

I Dream of the Sea | William Ronald

Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 19" x 30"
Price: SOLD

Details: Signed and dated lower right. Framed, measures 27¼ X 37¾ inches
Provenance: Private Collection, Gallery Louise Smith

Additional Information and Photos Available Upon Request

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William Ronald was the founder of the highly influential Painters Eleven,
a collaborative of abstract artists who formed in the early 1950s.



As one of the pioneers of abstract painting in Canada, Ronald – and the Painters Eleven as a movement – is credited with opening the door for many contemporary artists to experiment with modern art.

Born in Stratford, Ontario, Ronald had early ambitions of being a painter and attended the Ontario College of Art. Ronald’s younger brother, John Meredith, also became a painter.

Ronald studied three years under Will Ogilvie, Carl Schaefer, J.W.G. (Jock) MacDonald, George Pepper, John Alfsen, Rowley Murphy, Harley Parker and others.

Ronald worked as a newspaper cartoonist and designer, but continued to experiment with abstract art. He exhibited widely, including with the Royal Canadian Academy and Ontario Society of Artists. He met fellow abstract artists Ray Mead and Tom Hodgson.

Painters Eleven

Ronald convinced his employer, the Robert Simpson Company, to mount a display of abstract art to go along with the store’s furniture.

He recruited Oscar Cahén, Jack Bush, Alexandra Luke, Kazuo Nakamura, Mead and Hodgson for the 1953 display.

Afterwards, the group decided to continue to display their work collectively, but invited other artists into the fold: Jock Macdonald, Harold Town, Walter Yarwood, and Hortense Gordon, bringing their number to 11.

To galvanize the group further, Alexandra Luke hosted a meeting in her Oshawa studio to form Painters Eleven. In 1954, they held their first group show at Roberts Gallery, Jack Bush’s dealer.

Influential Painter

In 1954, Ronald painted “In Dawn The Heart”, a painting which shows an influence from Hans Hofmann. It was exhibited in the Painters Eleven show at Roberts Gallery and later Hart House (both 1955), and was subsequently purchased by the Art Gallery of Toronto.

Around the same time, Ronald moved to New York and started building a reputation there, eventually having his first solo show with the Kootz Gallery in New York. He enjoyed great success for a number of years until Pop Art became in vogue.

Ronald went through some turbulent years, having unsuccessful shows, abandoning art for a time, and battling depression.

CBC TV Program

In 1966, Ronald was offered a programme on the arts by CBC TV. The Umbrella lasted two seasons and had a viewing audience of 1.2 million.

Afterwards Ronald turned to painting once more. He was given a large-scale mural commission by the National Art Centre in Ottawa, measuring three storeys tall. It was completed to acclaim in 1969.

While continuing with his painting career, Ronald returned to broadcasting and hosted shows for the CBC and CITY-TV, (1972-74, 1977).

In the 1980s, he painted “unconventional” portraits of 16 of Canada’s prime ministers. Each of the portraits differs in size and technique, to suit the personality and reputation of the subject. The portraits were first shown at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1984, officially opened by then Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. The exhibition then went on tour across Canada.

Ronald’s works are in numerous public and private collections in Canada and the United States.

Source:   Colin S. MacDonald. A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 (online only), by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker. National Gallery of Canada