National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts

Bulletin 6 (III:2), 1965

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A parcel of paintings Sent from 
Glasgow to Montreal in 1782

by Hamish Miles, Lecturer in the History of Art 
University of Glasgow

Résumé en français

Pages  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  

In the Glasgow auction rooms today pictures are being bought cheaply, and without apparent discrimination as to quality or kind, for shipment in bulk, as I am told, to the Canadian market. That the practise is not an entirely recent one may be shown by some entries for the year 1782 in a copy letter-book kept by John Brown, Junior, Merchant and Banker in Glasgow. (1) It is as a small and rather unexpected footnote to the early history of the art trade with North America and, incidentally, to the sorry tale of the Foulis Academy in Glasgow, that these entries are printed.

I. Mr James Dunlop Montreal (P Brothers Hastie (2) Glasgow 20th March 1782 having in my hands a Parcell of Paintings done at the Collage here I had thoughts of trying Quebec & Montreal Market for a Part of them Being Aquaent with your Friends here and as you was much Recomended to me as usfull Person for to make trial I, I have Consigned to you two Boxes Marked t D N 1 & 2 which contains the Paintings, etc etc as per anexed account f.80.5.1/2, I was Led to think a Roman Catholick Country would be proper for them, as several of them are Catholick & Scripturall Pieces, and would do for Alter Pieces, The Triumph of the Church is a Capitall piece, and was it to be tripled [?] Could not be produced for 30 Guineas - If they answer your Market I have no Doubt But it will be in your Power to sell them with the proportion of fraaght Insurance etc aded. But I give you the Liberty to sell them at what they will Bring provided that they do not go below the price afixed not Including Charges, But at the same time I have Confidence in you that you will make the most of them - In the Long Box N 1 is the Largest Pictures Rolld up, it will be needful you Employ a proper hand to Extend them on Frames before you Expose them, and get them Cleaned and Dressed up, Disolve a litle soft sope in Water not Milk Warm and with a sponge gently clean them, and Beat the white of an Egg into an oyl and Rub them Gently with a litle of it with a very soft Brush which will polish them But do not give them too Much as it will make them have to great a Gloss - I have also sent in Portfolio some Capitall Prints, and some not so much value the Capital ones I do asure you Cost the prices Noted within these 6 Months and never was put up, People of Taste will value them high.

The Paintings was done by Stevenson, Mclachlan Cochrane etc etc after Paintings of the Best Masters, I inclose the Bill of Lading I hope the Brothers will be with you Early this Season and when you sell you may Remitt me by Bill or of Country Produce that you think is Likely to have a Ready Market in G Britain - you will please write me of your sucess and if I find it Encouraging and it is agreeable to you I can send you a few More - Yours etc etc JB Copey sent to Dysart to go by the Magdelane [........] for Quebeck & given by Mr [........] to John Bridie in Leith May 20 copey via London.
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