Both Walker and Brown were interested in Canadian art. As early as 1914, for example, the gallery had bought Tom THOMSON's work. Subsequent curators, such as Robert H. Hubbard, J. Russell Harper, Jean-René Ostiguy, Pierre Théberge, Dennis Reid, Charles Hill and Jean Trudel, have built up a representative selection of both historical and contemporary Canadian art. Sculpture and the decorative arts have also been acquired. The gallery has received gifts from many patrons, including J.M. MacCallum, Vincent Massey, Douglas Duncan, Mr and Mrs Harry Jackman and Henry Birks and Blair Laing. Since the late 1960s the Gallery has collected film and video (see VIDEO ART).
To provide a context for Canadian art, the gallery in 1907 began to buy European art from the end of the Middle Ages to our time. Even with the limited funds available before WWII, important works were purchased, such as paintings by Piero di Cosimo, Bronzino, Canaletto, Monet and Degas. After 1945 purchases were made from the Prince of Liechtenstein, including a Rembrandt, a Rubens and 2 Chardins, and from the Vollard Estate, among them paintings by Cézanne and pastels by Degas.
In recent years a few pieces of decorative art and major pieces of SCULPTURE, including marbles by Puget, Bernini and Canova, have been added to the collection. Sir Edmund Walker, a print collector himself, encouraged the development of a prints and drawings collection. This tradition was continued under Kathleen M. Fenwick, curator from 1928 to 1968. In 1967 a PHOTOGRAPHY section was established, with James Borcoman as curator. In 1978-80, Max Tanenbaum gave an important collection of Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan sculptures and paintings.
The National Gallery of Canada has always had a sense of national responsibility. By 1914 it was sending exhibitions and making extended loans to other museums across the country. It has sponsored Canadian art abroad through the Venice Biennale and other exhibitions in places as distant as Tel Aviv and Beijing. Gallery research in conservation and the history of art is exemplary. All media - exhibitions, film, television, radio - have been used to communicate with Canadians about gallery collections and Canadian art.
In 1968 the National Gallery was incorporated as part of the NATIONAL MUSEUMS OF CANADA, and in 1990 became a crown corporation. In 1982 the Canada Museums Construction Corporation was established to provide the gallery with a home. After more than a century in borrowed space, the new building, designed by Moshe SAFDIE, opened in May 1988 in Ottawa. Pierre Théberge was appointed Director in 1998, replacing Dr Shirley Thomson.
Author JEAN SUTHERLAND BOGGS
Jean Sutherland Boggs, The National Gallery of Canada (1971); R.H. Hubbard, National Gallery of Canada, Catalogue of Paintings and Drawings, (3 vols, 1951-60); Catalogue of the National Gallery of Canada European and American Painting, Sculpture and Decorative Arts, Vol 1 (1982); Catalogue of the National Gallery of Canada Canadian Art (1988 & 1994).
Links to Other Sites
National Gallery of Canada
The official website for the National Gallery of Canada. A beautiful online showcase for Canadian art.
Click on "Glossary" to access this multilingual glossary for art librarians. In English with indexes in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Swedish. From the website for the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.
Royal Canadian Academy of Arts
The official website for the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA.) The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts is composed of over 700 established professionals working across Canada in 20 visual arts disciplines; from painting and sculpture to architecture, design, fine craft, photography and filmmaking. A pdf file.
Glossary: Emily Carr
A glossary of terms relating to Emily Carr and her art. From the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Virtual Museum of Canada.
Vancouver developer to chair National Gallery board
A news story about Vancouver developer Michael Audain assuming the chairmanship of the National Gallery's board of trustees. From the Ottawa Citizen newspaper.
Former National Gallery head Shirley Thomson dies
A CBC obituary for Shirley Thomson, former head of the National Gallery in Ottawa.
Art Gallery of Alberta
The website for the Art Gallery of Alberta. View images from current and upcoming exhibits and check out the online "Educator Resources" for a glossary of art terms and other learning aids.