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

Bulletin 22, 1973

Annual Index
Author & Subject

Click figure 7 here for an enlarged image

Foreign Art at the Canadian National Exhibition 1905-1938

by Sybille Pantazzi

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

Old Masters were included only once during the period we are dealing with, in 1931, when seventeen paintings were borrowed from such New York dealers as Wildenstein, Drey, and Ehrich. They consisted of a mixed group of Italian, Flemish, and Dutch Masters ranging from Mabuse to Canaletto. Lotto, Tintoretto (two pictures), and Bernardino dei Conti represented the Italian school, and Jordaens, Ruysdael, Cuyp, and Rembrandt represented the Flemish and Dutch schools. Five of the pictures were illustrated in the catalogue.

Contemporary works were certainly in the majority, but during the three decades being surveyed, early and late Victorian narrative painting, as well as the popular Edwardian "problem" pictures, appeared in almost every exhibition, even as late as 1938. The majority were borrowed from British museums. In the chronological order of their appearance at the C. N. E., here are some of the nineteenth-century paintings of the British school - most of them well-known and many celebrated - that visitors to the Toronto exhibition were able to admire without crossing the ocean: Alma Tadema's The Pyrrhic Dance (in 1905), Mulready's Choosing the Wedding-Gown, and William 24 Dyce's George Herbert at Bemerton (in 1906); Frith's Honeywood Introducing the Bailiffs as His Friends, Pettie's Two Strings to Her Bow, Alma Tadema's A Lover of Art, and paintings by Landseer and Luke Fildes (in 1907); Constable's Hampstead Heath, Landseer's The Old Shepherd's Chief Mourner, and C. R. Leslie's My Uncle Toby and the widow Wadham were lent by the Victoria and Albert Museum (in 1908); Lord Leighton's Summer Slumber, Millais's My First Sermon, and My Second Sermon, Alma Tadema's Pastime in Egypt, and paintings by Marcus Stone and Landseer (in 1909); Lord Leighton's Eucharis, Holman Hunt's Shadow of Death, and the celebrated When Did You Last See Your Father? by W. F. Yeames (which, with Henry Holiday's Dante & Beatrice [see below], still figures among the dioramas at Madame Tussaud's) (in 1910). Works by Noel Paton, Daniel Maclise, Albert Moore, and J. F. Lewis were also shown in 1910 (all four of these painters have been the subject of recent one-man exhibitions).

A hiatus occurred during the war years, but the presence in 1922 and 1924 of works by Burne Jones (Annunciation), Millais (Apple Blossoms), J. W. Waterhouse (The Lady of Shalott), W. Q. Orchardson (Napoleon at St Helena), Alma Tadema (decidedly in high favour), and Albert Moore Shows that the popularity of the Pre-Raphaelites and their followers, and other late Victorians, could still be counted on as an attraction. In the following year (1925), Sigismund Goetze's The Open Door, an allegorical religious picture beloved in Toronto, was lent by the Art Museum of Toronto, and Henry Holiday's perennial favourite Dante and Beatrice was borrowed from Liverpool for the first time. In 1935 a celebrated triad, Millais's Boyhood of Raleigh, Holman Hunt's The Light of the World, and Holiday's Dante and Beatrice were among the pictures shown, and again in 1936 we find The Doctor by Luke Fildes, Holman Hunt's The Scapegoat, and Millais's The Black Brunswicker. Reviewing the 1935 exhibition, Pearl McCarthy remarked that it would be particularly popular owing to the inclusion of "famous" pictures (which she defined as those already well-known through reproductions) and of narrative pictures such as Silenced by J. Seymour Lucas, which represented a courtier slain in a palace intrigue. (22) Finally in 1938, concurrently with a Surrealist exhibition, the Commissioners cautiously included Ford Madox Brown's The Coat of Many Colours, Frith's The Railway Station, Millais's The Northwest Passage, and Lord Leighton's Bath of Psyche, no doubt to provide some familiar alternatives for the majority of the viewers, for whom the first sight of works by Dali, Picasso, and De Chirico must have come as rather a shock.

Battle and historical pictures were evidently a popular genre. Thus four paintings by R. Caton-Woodville, illustrating scenes from the Boer War, were exhibited in the period 19
06-1909. Lady Butler's Scotland for Ever was shown in 1908, and another of her works was shown in 1912. It was about Scotland for Ever, which depicts the charge of the Scots Greys at Waterloo, that the intrepid Lady Butler wrote: "I twice saw a charge of Greys before painting [it].... I stood in front to see them coming on. One cannot, of course, stop too long to see them close." (23)

In 1917 French pictures of scenes from the Franco-Prussian War by Alphonse de Neuville, Morot, and Regamey were shown; and in 1937, four paintings illustrating incidents from Napoleon's career were borrowed from the Musée de Versailles.

The outstanding exhibitions of war pictures at the C. N. E. were, of course, those of the Canadian War Memorials in 1919 and 1920. (The British artists who contributed to them will be mentioned later, together with the other contemporary artists from Great Britain who exhibited at the C. N. E.)

Sargent's brilliantly stylish portrait W. Graham Robertson was lent by the sitter in 1908 (fig. 7), seven years after its appearance at the Venice Biennale. In 1911, Brangwyn, Vicat Cole, John Hassall, and Munnings were represented. In 1912 there was a nude by William Orpen, and works by Charles Shannon, Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale, and Byam Shaw, the two latter mainly remembered today for their illustrations. In 1913 the frontispiece of the catalogue reproduced a symbolist work, Beauty and the Beast by J. D. Batten, another illustrator; Charles Ricketts was also included that year. Other exhibitors in 1913 were Wilson Steer, William Nicholson, and Philip Connard with a group of official favourites: Lavery, Orpen, Glyn Philpot, and Gerald Kelly. The selection for that year and for the following years until 1934 was made by E. R. Dibdin, the newly appointed European representative. In 1914 two members of the Camden Town Group, Harold Gilman and Charles Ginner exhibited for the first time, and also Walter Greaves, Whistler's pupil and follower.

The first part of the Canadian War Memorials collection was shown for the first time in Canada at the C. N. E. in 1919; the second part was also exhibited there the following year. Owing to the advice of P. G. Konody, the collection included more advanced artists than any of the previous exhibitions: with Ginner, Gilman, and Eric Kennington, there were C. R. W. Nevinson, David Bomberg, Paul Nash, as well as three members of the Vorticist Group: Wyndham Lewis, William Roberts, and Edward Wadsworth. Established official artists such as Orpen, Richard Jack, Dame Laura Knight, Ambrose McEvoy, A. J. Munnings, Gerald Moira, and others were also among those commissioned by Lord Beaverbrook to document the Canadian contribution to the First World War. (24)

In the 1920s we find some of the younger artists, such as Mark Gertler and John Nash, while Augustus John, Laura Knight, Sickert, Steer, William Rothenstein, Charles Ricketts, and others continue to contribute regularly. In 1928 a small selection of British sculpture included works by Sir Jacob Epstein (the bust of R. B. Cunningham Graham; fig. 8), Gilbert Bayes, Eric Gill, and, unexpectedly, a Goose in terracotta by Barbara Hepworth, priced at $ 100.

Next Page | Scottish works

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

Top of this page

Home | Français | Introduction | History
Annual Index | Author & Subject | Credits | Contact

This digital collection was produced under contract to Canada's Digital Collections program, Industry Canada.

"Digital Collections Program, Copyright © National Gallery of Canada 2001"