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

Bulletin 3 (II:1), 1964

Annual Index
Author & Subject

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Recent Acquisitions

Nouvelles acquisitions

Pages  2

This selection of recent acquisitions by the National Gallery of Canada, presents some of the more important works purchased during the past year. 

The subject, taken from the tragedy of Medea, represents the Angel of Mercy restraining Medea as Folly on her throne incites her to strike while Reason and Virtue flee. The interpretation is that of Professor Rudolf Wittkower. The drawing is reproduced in Portalis' standard work on Fragonard and is listed there among the principal drawings of the artist. It was presented to the National Gallery by the Royal Trust Company of Montreal.

This drawing which was formerly in the collection of Lord Milford and Sir John Phillips is one of the most important acquisitions made in recent years for the National Gallery's collection of drawings. It corresponds fairly closely with the left wing of a small diptych in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich which Friedländer regarded as probably a production of Memling's studio. 

As the number of Flemish drawings of the fifteenth century which are known to be by a definite artist is very small and in the absence of any drawing which can be definitely attributed to Memling, there is no certainty as to whether the present drawing is an original by the master or a copy from the painting. But as Mr A. E. Popham has pointed out, closely as the drawing corresponds with the Munich picture, its quality is extremely high and there are none of the small misunderstandings of the original which normally betray the copyist. Although the way in which Memling's studio was organized is not known, it may possibly have been his practice to provide his assistants with drawings of this kind from which they were instructed to produce paintings.

A pencil sketch related to the painting of 1827 of the same title acquired by the National Gallery in 1940. The drawing differs from the painting mainly in the foreground on the left with its additional figures and in the presence of the cattle in the river.

Jacopo di Cione
(active 1365-1398) was a younger brother and follower of Andrea Orcagna (c. 1308-1368), the Florentine architect, sculptor, and painter of the mid fourteenth century. Three documented pictures by Jacopo exist: the St. Matthew Altar-piece, in the Uffizi, the side panels only are by him; the San Piero Altar-piece of 1370-1, parts of which are in the National Gallery, London; and the Coronation of the Virgin of 1373, in the Academy, Florence, which he executed in collaboration with others. Berenson assigned some fifty paintings to Jacopo. This triptych, which at one time was in the collection of Prince Murat, Paris, is in an excellent state of preservation and the first of its kind to enter the National Gallery collection.

"It is to Riopelle's credit that he has created a stylistic métier which unites the vitality of nature with formal balance. Compact and varied palette knife strokes vibrate, shift, finally to harmonize and wedge themselves into chromatic zones of opposing movements; it is precisely in such dynamic compositions that Riopelle's poetic being asserts itself." These lines by Franco Russoli may be used to describe Pavane. This is a major work by a contemporary Canadian painter to enter the collection.

This portrait of M. Sériziat is dated 1790 and precedes the famous portrait of 1795, in the Louvre, Paris, showing him three-quarter length and dressed in riding clothes. The sitter was the brother-in-law of David, having married Emilie Pécoul, his wife's sister. David is one of the giants of French painting, who destroyed the aristocratic and facile art of the eighteenth century. He established classicism and was the leader of this style which had the "air of the heroic republic about it". This new attitude was stern, it breathed a martial spirit, and immediately had a great following. During the Revolution, the Consulate, and the Empire, classicism was the accepted style and in some ways has persisted to the present day in academic art.

Edmund Alleyn studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Quebec, under Jean-Paul Lemieux. He has exhibited at the Guggenheim International Exhibition 1958, the Venice Biennale 1960, and received an Honourable Mention at the Sao Paulo Bienal 1959. For the past few years he has worked mainly in Paris.

Jean McEwen lives and works in Montreal. He is represented in Canadian galleries and private collections, and recently the Museum of Modern Art, New York, acquired his work. Along with three other artists he was represented in the Canadian entry at the Sao Paulo Bienal 1963, where he received an Honourable Mention.

This painting is attributed to Jan Brueghel the EIder, who is called 'Velvet' Brueghel (because of his love of rich materials). Jan was the youngest son of Pieter Brueghel the Eider, who died in 1569. Jan's grandmother, Marie de Bessemers, the widow of Pieter Coucke d'Alost, gave him instruction in drawing. He was a pupil of Pieter Goetkint and worked in Italy with Paul Bril, and was also active in Prague and Nuremberg. In 1605 he married Catherina van Marienburg, and their daughter, Anna, became the first wife of the painter David Teniers the Younger, in 1637. Jan Brueghel was for a time court painter to the Archduke Albert and the Archduchess Isabella, Governors of the Netherlands, and a friend and collaborator of Rubens. Among Jan's pupils were Daniel Seghers, Lucas de Waal, Abraham Govaerts, and his son, Jan II.

Jan Brueghel always maintained a remarkable balance between fidelity to nature and pictorial effect. His flowers are usually arranged to achieve a striking composition of colours. His Flemish use of paint is thick and unctuous, and the style is always truthful enough to allow identification of the various species of flowers.

Paintings by Jan Brueghel are in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Royal Museum, Antwerp, the Prado, Madrid, and the Ambrosiana, Milan.

John Chambers was born in London, Ontario, and studied there at the H. B. Beal Technical School. He spent five years at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid and was awarded the State Prize for Painting in 1958. He returned to London, Ontario, in 1962.

Alan Davie was born at Grangemouth, Scotland, and studio at the Edinburgh College of Art. His first exhibition was held in London in 1950 at the Gimpel Fils Gallery. Subsequently he has exhibited in the United States, Japan, France, Italy, Holland, and Germany. Davie has shown kinship with certain aspects of German Expressionism but his most recent work, which is more closely linked with Abstract Expressionism, is powerful and explosive.

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