Tony Onley (1928-2004)
14.5” x 10.5” Image
25” x 21” Frame
Signed Front Left
Toni Onley came to Canada in 1948 (he was born in Isle of Man, Ireland) and settled for a time at Brantford, Ontario. Onley took further study at the Doon School of Fine Art in 1951 under Carl Schaefer. In his early work Onley was influenced by British painters John Cotman and Peter DeWint and created traditional landscapes. He married Brantford art critic and amateur painter Mary Burrows in 1950 and they had two daughters Jennifer (b.1951) and Lynn (b.1954). He worked at a variety of jobs in order to support his family. In 1955, exhibiting in the Western Ontario Annual show of artists under 27, he won an award for his work. He exhibited as well with the Royal Canadian Academy, The Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colours and his work attracted the attention of art critics.
In his collage work he did a Polar series numbered from one to over forty. These works on large canvases in cool colours of blue, black, grey, green, etc., drew favourable comments from critics and his Polar #1 won the $2,000 Royal Canadian Academy Zacks Award given to an artist at the society's annual exhibition. With this award Onley studied in London, England, while the award-winning painting was presented to the Tate Gallery having been selected by Sir John Rothenstein (Director of the Tate) as the painting he would like to have for his gallery from the 1963 RCA showing. During this period he studied etching and began to produce work in this medium as an extension of his painting.
His awards include: Scholarship, Instituto Allende 1957; Canada Council Grant 1961,1963; Jessie Dow Award at Montreal Spring Show, 1960; one of seven artists to show at the Paris Biennial, 1961; Spring Purchase Award (MMFA), 1962; Canadian Biennials exhibitor 1959, 1961, 1963, 1965, 1968; Sam & Ayola Zacks Award, RCA Annual, 1963; Canada Coucil Senior Fellowship, 1964.
— Biography by Colin S. MacDonald © 1997