European, American Prints & Drawings
The European and American prints and drawings collection, which comprises more than 1,700 drawings and 9,500 prints, is the most substantial in Canada and among the finest in North America.
For its drawing collection, the Gallery has been fortunate to acquire the preparatory sketches for works of art already in its possession. Among the most remarkable is a pen-and-ink drawing entitled Nude Woman with a Staff (c.1501-03) by Albrecht Dürer, which may be a preliminary study for the figure of Eve in the engraving The Fall of Man (1504). Also part of the collection is a final study for the celebrated painting The Death of General Wolfe by Benjamin West. This famous historical subject inspired the drawing by Louis-Joseph Watteau entitled The Death of Montcalm (c.1783), which forms a fascinating pendant to Wolfe's work.
In addition to these well-known works are a number of large sets or suites of prints, as well as important individual drawings. One of the highlights from the Italian School is the complete set of Carceri (Prisons) in both states by Giovanni Battista Piranesi.
The Spanish collection is notable for its print series by Francisco Goya, including the complete Caprichos (1797-99), the Disasters of War (1810-20), and the Tauromaquia (1815-16). Another highlight is the Vollard Suite (1930-37) by Pablo Picasso, one hundred prints of classical and mythological subjects featuring the sculptor, his model, and the minotaur.
Among the most important prints from the Flemish School is the Iconography (c.1625-41) by Anthony van Dyck, a series of 292 portraits, some of them etched by the artist himself, representing contemporary humanists as well as artistic and political celebrities. From the Dutch School, some thirty works by Rembrandt reveal this great master of graphic art at his finest.
The collection is particularly strong in sixteenth century Italian drawings, eighteenth and nineteenth century British drawings and in French nineteenth century prints. Memorable selections from these schools include Reclining Male Nude (c.1530-1540) by Jacopo Pontormo, Oak Trees, Shoreham, Kent (c.1828) by Samuel Palmer and the Large Bathers (1896-c.1898), a lithograph with watercolour by Paul Cezanne.
The modern Russian School has taken on a new importance in the collection with the acquisition of the suite of colour lithographs Daphnis et Chloé (1957-61) by Marc Chagall, part of a collection of over 550 Chagall prints.