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Exhibitions installed in the Library's foyer gallery highlight research materials held by the Library and Archives. Open during Museum hours.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “The Maids of Elfin-mere.” William Allingham, The Music Master: A Love Story and Two Series of Day and Night Songs. London: George Routledge, 1855. Engraved by the Brothers Dalziel. Edward Burne-Jones, “The Summer Snow.” Good Words. London: Alexander Strahan and Company, 1863. Engraved by the Brothers Dalziel.


National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives

Exhibition no. 51

6 October 2015 – 24 March 2016



The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in London in 1848 by William Holman Hunt (1827–1910), John Everett Millais (1829–1896) and Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882). Disenchanted with contemporary academic painting, these three artists sought instead to create an art that followed John Ruskin’s principle of “truth to nature.” For inspiration, the group looked mainly to early Italian Renaissance art before Raphael, but they were also influenced by Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528), Jan van Eyck (c. 1380/90–1441) and members of the German Nazarene movement, including Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794–1872), Moritz Retzsch (1779–1857) and Johann Friedrich Overbeck (1789–1869).


The nineteenth century witnessed several important technical advances in the mechanical reproduction of books and magazines. The most significant change was the refinement of wood-engraving, which by the 1850s had become the dominant medium for reproducing images. Allowing text and image to be printed together, wood-engraving was considerably less expensive than other printing methods. The lower cost in turn meant that illustrated publications could for the first time be made widely available to the general public. The popularity of wood-engraving also gave rise to specialized businesses devoted to the medium. Among the most prominent were firms run by the Brothers Dalziel and Joseph Swain. The Brothers Dalziel were particularly successful and were often entrusted with soliciting material from artists on behalf of major publishers. Illustration during the period had become, in many respects, a collaborative art, a partnership between artist and wood engraver.

The ideas espoused by the original Pre-Raphaelites attracted numerous artist friends and colleagues in the 1850s, most notably Ford Madox Brown (1821–1893), Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898), Arthur Hughes (1832–1915) and Frederick Sandys (1829–1904). All were drawn to the idea of a romantic past, which they often expressed in subjects derived from medieval, biblical and literary sources with themes of love, death and personal loss. The Pre-Raphaelites held to the belief that illustration was an art form equal to painting, an idea that combined with other social and technologically changes and helped make possible the large number of fine illustrations that appeared in books and magazines in Britain during the latter half of the nineteenth century.


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National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives

September 8-October 2, 2015


Founded in 1965 with the aim to further the interests of book collectors and to promote a wider appreciation of fine books, the Alcuin Society is the only non-profit organization in Canada dedicated to a wide range of interests related to books and reading. The Society encourages the best in Canadian book design by holding an annual competition. The exhibition features the winning entries to the competition.


Organized by the Alcuin Society.


National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives

Exhibition No. 50

24 April – 7 September 2015


This exhibition explores the relationship between Alex Colville (1920–2013) and Lincoln Kirstein (1907–1996), who co-founded the New York City Ballet in 1948. Colville and Kirstein were introduced by Edwin Hewitt of Manhattan’s Hewitt Gallery in 1952. After returning from the Second World War, during which he was assigned to the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Division of the Allied Armies, Lincoln Kirstein co-founded the New York City Ballet in 1948. After they met, Kirstein became one of Colville’s earliest and most influential patrons: he purchased three of his paintings in the 1950s and many of Colville’s serigraphs into the 1980s. Colville purposefully segregated himself from artists and art galleries, but his correspondence with Kirstein demonstrates that he remained engaged with, and aware of, trends in modern art. Through their correspondence, Kirstein became a sounding board for Colville’s reflections on art in general, as well as his own progress.



National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives

Exhibition No. 49

6 January – 17 April 2015


An exhibition bringing together drawings, photographs, watercolours and other items related to Paul Peel, one of Canada’s most celebrated painters.


Active during the latter part of the nineteenth century, Paul Peel was one of the first Canadian artists to receive critical acclaim abroad, his paintings being regularly included in the prestigious salons organized by the Société des artistes français in Paris. Peel received an honourable mention at the 1889 Salon for his painting A Venetian Bather (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa) and was awarded a bronze medal the following year for After the Bath (Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto).


This exhibition is a rare opportunity to discover the private world of Paul Peel. Most of the selected works were compiled during his lifetime and conserved by his family after his death in Paris in 1892. After being cared for by three successive generations of descendants (in cities including Chicago, Copenhagen, Nice and Laguna Beach), the collection was donated to the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives.


Paul Peel was born in London, Canada West, in 1860. He began his career as an artist at home, where he learned the rudiments of drawing and painting from his father, Robert Peel, a stone cutter and drawing instructor. After additional training from local artist William Lees Judson at the Western School of Art, Peel was admitted into the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1877, taking lessons on drawing the human figure from Christian Schussele and Thomas Eakins. In 1880 Peel briefly attended the Royal Academy of Arts in London, England, and the following year moved to Paris, where he studied at the Académie Julian and the École des Beaux-Arts under several well-known artists steeped in the French academic tradition, including Jules Joseph Lefebvre, Henri Lucien Doucet and Jean-Léon Gérôme. In 1892, at the height of his career and widely celebrated for his technically brilliant domestic scenes, nudes and landscapes, Peel died of pneumonia in Paris.


The National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives wishes to thank Patricia Brooks-Hammond and Joan Mackie for their generous donation of the items that now comprise the Paul Peel and Isaure Verdier Peel fonds.


For more information on Paul Peel, please contact the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives