National Gallery Foundation appeals to Canadians to acquire historical portrait
Ottawa, Canada - December 2, 2004
La Fondation du MBAC demande l’aide des Canadiens pour acquérir un portrait historique
The National Gallery of Canada Foundation is hoping Canadians will help the country’s premier art museum acquire an important part of our cultural heritage. Onontaha, a 1915 oil painting by Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, is a portrait of a young Métis woman from Bécancour, Que., named Onontaha.
Draughtsman, painter and sculptor, Suzor-Coté was one of the most talented Canadian artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, excelling in genre and history painting, as well as landscapes, still lifes and figure studies. The National Gallery owns a good representation of Suzor-Coté’s work, but no portraits. The National Gallery of Canada Foundation’s appeal for donations aims to fill this gap in the Canadian collection.
Visitors to the National Gallery, who can see Onontaha for themselves in room A107a of the Canadian galleries, are invited to contribute to the cause. The painting is the focus of the Foundation's current corporate and individual fundraising campaigns.
“Onontaha is an exceptional work in Suzor-Coté’s oeuvre,” says Pierre Théberge, Director of the National Gallery of Canada. “This represents a rare opportunity to add a superb and historical work by a very important artist to the National Gallery’s Permanent Collection.”
Canadian architect J. Omer Marchand, who later became associate architect for the new Parliament Buildings in Ottawa in 1917, commissioned Suzor-Coté to create a painting to fit a Spanish style frame he had acquired. The result was Onontaha.
Onontaha is depicted seated in a plain wooden chair in three-quarter view. She turns her head to address the viewer. This is not an academic, studio work, but a delightful study of rich colour and a very human, down-to-earth interpretation of the sitter’s personality.
The work was exhibited only once in 1915 at the Spring Exhibition at the Art Association of Montreal, and remained in private hands for the past 89 years.
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Established in 1997, the National Gallery of Canada Foundation is dedicated to ensuring the long-term viability and success of the Gallery by fostering new relationships and partnerships. It welcomes gifts, grants, bequests and endowments from individuals, corporations, foundations and other organizations in furtherance of the National Gallery’s mandate and vision. Contact the Foundation by calling (613) 241-9359 or emailing email@example.com.
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