“Canada is often accused of lacking a feeling for art, but it is to the credit of the dominion, that, with its comparatively small population, it has possessed a National Art Gallery for thirty-three years” American Art News, May 1913.
Reproduction of the Icebreaker Beach maskette, an original ivory carving discovered in 1986 on NE Devon Island, N.W.T. The original is a small, oval piece of walrus ivory measuring 54.2mm in length, 29.3mm in width and 8.2mm in thickness. It is the oldest known depiction of a human face in Canada. Collection of the Canadian Museum of History/Musée canadien de l’histoire.
Ojibwe pictograph of a mishibizhiw part of the Agawa Bay pictograph trail, Lake Superior Provincial Park. The pictographs are painted on the rock with a mixture of powdered hematite and animal fats and were painted over a period of approximately 250 years, with the earliest ones thought to date from circa 1700.
La Sainte Famille à Nazareth. Anon., from the studio of Simon Vouet in Paris, ca. 1600. This painting is one of 200 French paintings that were imported into Quebec City by the Abbé Desjardins in 1817 and 1820. They are the first Old Master paintings to arrive in Canada.
The Phantom Hunter by William Blair Bruce, 1888. Bruce was born in Hamilton, Ontario and moved to Paris at the age of 22, where he studied under Adolphe-William Bouguereau, the pre-eminent painter in the academic style of the late 19th century. The Phantom Hunter was Bruce’s first major success and was exhibited at the 1888 Paris Salon.
“Detail of Mi´kmaq belt. Collected 1868. Old collection label with following text: “Sash in beads Fredericton 1868” and on the other side “North Amerika 9”. Old paper label from Wallis & Wallis auction house, with auction and item number, auction September 1961. L. 134 cm, W. 8 cm. Provenance: Old Swedish collection, Wallis & Wallis auction 1961, British collection.
Group of Seven works at the 1924 British Empire Exhibition in Wembley. The showing met with success—the Tate Gallery purchased an A.Y. Jackson, and one critic noted that their works captured “the buoyant, eager, defiant spirit of the nation.”
David Milne, Store Fronts (New York), 1914-1915. Milne was born in 1882 to Scottish immigrant parents in Burgoyne, Ontario. After studying art via correspondence courses, he decided to move to New York in 1903 at the age of 21. He was the only Canadian artist exhibited in the epochal Armory Show of 1913. Although underappreciated in his lifetime, he is now widely regarded as one of Canada’s greatest artists.
Objects confiscated from the Kwakwaka’wakw people during the period of the Potlatch ban are displayed in the Anglican parish hall in Alert Bay under the orders of William Halliday, 1921. The stolen objects were inventoried, crated and sent to Ottawa, with many of them ending up in the collections of museums around the world. Halliday also illegally sold some items to a US collector while the pieces were still in Alert Bay.
Toronto Police from the Morality Squad taking down drawings at the Dorothy Cameron Gallery during an exhibition on the theme of physical love in May 1965. Cameron was charged and convicted of exhibiting seven obscene drawings. The most prominent art dealer in Toronto at the time, Dorothy Cameron appealed her conviction all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, but lost her case and closed her gallery in 1966.
General Idea was a collective of three artists, Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal and AA Bronson. The “1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion” was the focus of their work for a decade starting in 1977. The Boutique from the 1984 Miss General Idea Pavillion was first presented at the Carmen Lamanna Gallery in Toronto in December 1980.
In November 2016, Lawren Harris’ Mountain Forms, from 1926, became the most expensive Canadian artwork ever sold, garnering $11.2M at auction. The seller was Imperial Oil Inc., who had acquired it in 1984 from Galerie Walter Klinkhoff in Montreal for an undisclosed amount, thought to be in the range of $350,000. The name of the purchaser was not revealed.