Artwork by Marjorie Stead,  Figure Study

Marjorie Stead
Figure Study

double-sided watercolour
signed (twice) and dated 1953 (twice); “The William Ronald Corporation” stamp and inscribed inventory number “OA30” at the upper left corner; inscribed “phone bill about this one” along the upper edge; “Still-life Study” on the reverse; unframed
17.5 x 13.25 ins ( 44.5 x 33.7 cms ) ( sheet )

Auction Estimate: $125.00$75.00 - $125.00

Price Realized $108.00
Sale date: June 1st 2021

William Ronald
Helen Ronald / The Estate of William Ronald

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Marjorie Stead

Marjorie Stead was a musician and artist.  Born in 1906 to a musical family in Yorkshire, England, she became an accomplished violinist who played in orchestras under the baton of both Sir Malcolm Sargent and Sir Thomas Beecham.  After moving to Niagara Falls in 1951, she taught and performed music professionally as her interest in visual art blossomed.

After meeting the abstract painter William Ronald two years later when the young artist worked as a lecturer for the Art Gallery of Toronto (now AGO), one of her 1953 signed works entered his personal collection.  Auctioned by Cowley Abbott as part of the From The Estate of William Ronald online themed auction that began in May 2021, this double sided watercolour is a modernist representational work (a figure study backed by a still life) with elements of planar abstraction.

Legendary Globe and Mail art critic Pearl McCarthy praised the “rich reds and blues” of a canal study by Marjorie Stead in May 1956.  By the next year, the highly organized Stead became the president of the Niagara District Art Association.  Although founded in 1946, under Stead’s leadership the group began its first juried shows.

As her art evolved, it became increasingly colorful and abstract.  She exhibited in shows in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Art Gallery of Hamilton and Museum London.  By the 1970s, her work was a mainstay at exhibitions by the Niagara Artists' Co-operative.  She continued to make an impact upon the Niagara regional art community for decades.

At the age of 90, Marjorie Stead passed away in Niagara-on-the-Lake on June 8, 1996. However, her inspiration and influence lives on.  An example is Welland artist Jane Marshall who credits her former piano teacher Stead as the inspiration for her art career.  Additionally, art in the Niagara region continues to flourish and grow.  

We extend our thanks to Lawrence Brissenden for writing and contributing this artist biography.