National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

Bulletin 22, 1973

Annual Index
Author & Subject

Foreign Art at the Canadian National Exhibition 1905-1938

by Sybille Pantazzi

Pages  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |  9  |  10  |  11 

Notes in the C. N. E. (D. F. A.) Catalogues, 1905-1938

Information: The artists' dates and biographical information are included only exceptionally, but their affiliation with artists' societies is nearly always indicated. The medium is indicated by grouping only (e.g., the watercolours or sculpture are usually in a separate section). In the graphic arts section, information on the processes of engraving used is given for each work. The names of the lenders (unless lent by the artist) and prices are listed, but not the dimensions of the works. The introductory matter is limited to a brief foreword or note. With the exception of Dibdin's "Notes on the Pictures" in 1913, few statements of the policy of selection or analyses of the exhibitions or individual works appear in the catalogues. Misprints occur with some frequency in connection with artists and works that are neither British nor American.

Black and white illustrations only are used throughout the whole period. Those of foreign works increase from three in 1905 to twenty-three in 1914 but drop to thirteen in 1938. The proportion of illustrations to the number of works listed fluctuates (e.g., in 1917, twenty-one out of 115 foreign works were reproduced). There were more illustrations in the 1920s than in the 1930s. In 1938, for example, when 787 foreign works were listed, only thirteen (two from the Surrealist exhibition, none from the Theatre Art) were reproduced. In retrospect, it is difficult to judge to what extent the selection of the illustrations was governed by the importance of the works, or the availability of photographs.

Format: The size of the catalogues (8 x 5-1/2 in, 20.3 x 14 cm) remains approximately the same during this period. The number of pages grows from forty in 1905 to an average of ninety from 1912 to the early 1920s. It rises to 191 in 1931, and settles to an average of 140 to 160 in the late 1930s.

Covers: The earlier catalogues are in dull brown wrappers with the O. S. A. crest in reddish-orange (1905-1910), followed by the same type of wrappers, but with three variants of the C. N. E. crest, from 1911 to 1923. From 1924, the covers are in lighter colours and decorated with sketches by artists of C. N. E. buildings, among them a vignette of the Fine Art Gallery by Stanley Turner (1924 and 1925). In 1927 an overall stylized design by A.J. Casson was used. This effective cover, in black on a light ground, was the first of a series of attractive and colourful covers with distinctive lettering. The cover designs for 1931 to 1938, different each year, were by Thoreau MacDonald. Those for the 1930, 1933 and 1935 catalogues are reproduced in M. E. Edison's Thoreau MacDonald (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973), pp. 69, 74, 79.


This article is mainly based on the annual exhibition catalogues of the Department of Fine Arts of the C. N. E. It does not claim to have exhausted the subject, nor can it make any pretense at completeness because, at present, the records concerning the art exhibitions in the C. N. E. archives do not seem to be readily available. The Centennial of the C. N. E. in 1979 will no doubt be marked by the publication of an official documented history.

Apart from the local press, the secondary material on the C. N. E. is surprisingly meagre and contains little that is relevant to the subject of this article. The only two reviews of the C. N. E. I have traced in foreign periodicals deal mainly with the Canadian art exhibited there: The International Studio, vol. LI (December 1913), pp. 160- 163; Art News, vol. XXI (15 September 1923), p. 8.

In addition to the sources mentioned in the text or cited in the notes, the following were used:

1 Five albums of press clippings on the C. N. E. in the Metropolitan Toronto Central Library.

2 L. Alloway, The Venice Biennale, 1895-1968 (London: faber and faber, 1969).

3 E. Arthur, Toronto: No Mean City (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1964).

4 J .P .Crespelle, Les Maitres de la Belle Époque (Paris: Hachette, 1966).

5 H. Honour, "Biennales of Other Days," Apollo, vol. 84 (July 1966), pp. 24- 33.

6 Britain's Contribution to Surrealism of the 30's and 40's (London: Hamet Gallery, 1971).

7 Retrospective Exhibition from previous Internationals 1896-1955, catalogue compiled by L. A. Arkus (Pittsburgh: Carnegie Institute, Department of fine Arts, 1959).

8 Catalogue of the International Exhibition of Modern Art: Assembled by the Société Anonyme (Toronto: Art Gallery of Toronto, 1927).

9 P. Voigt, Was sie liebten: Salonmalerei im XIX Jahrhundert (Cologne: DuMont Schauberg, 1969).

10 Who's who in Art, 1927. vol. I, 3rd ed. (1934); 4th ed. (1948).

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