TABLE OF CONTENTS

Collection Summary

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content

Index Terms

Administrative Information

Processing Information

Preferred Citation

Contact Information

National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives

James Griffiths and John Griffiths Scrapbook:

Finding Aid



Collection Summary

Title:James Griffiths and John Griffiths Scrapbook.
Dates:– 1872-1874, 1881-1963.
Quantity: – 1 scrapbook : 33 x 21 cm.

Biographical Sketch

James Griffiths was born in 1814 in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Stratfordshire, England, the son of William Griffiths and Charlotta Griffiths (née Howard). William Griffiths, a potter by trade, was the manager of Minton China Works at Stoke-on-Trent, and in time James and his younger brother John were both able to find employment there as china painters and gilders. In 1835 James Griffiths married Elizabeth Steele (1814-1887) and eventually became the proprietor of Sanfield House, a home for the mentally ill. In 1855 Griffiths and his wife immigrated to Canada, settling in London, Ontario, where he worked for twenty-six years in the office of the deputy clerk of the Crown and Pleas, Court of Queen's Bench, while also studying art in the evenings. Mainly a painter of still lifes, Griffiths was a member of the Ontario Society of Artists from its inception in 1872 and one of the original eighteen artists elected to the Royal Canadian Academy in 1880. His paintings were also included in the Canadian section of the Chicago's World Fair in 1893. James Griffiths died at his residence near London, Ontario, in 1896.

John Howard Griffiths, the younger brother of James Griffiths, was born in 1826 in Newcastle-under-Lyme. At an early age he studied at the Potteries Mechanics' Institute and later worked with the Royal Academician, Edward Villiers Rippingille (ca. 1790-1859). Following in his brother's footsteps, John apprenticed at the Minton China Works before eventually immigrating to London, Ontario, in 1855. In London he was employed by J. & O. McClarys, tinsmith and hardware merchants, for six years, before opening his own photography studio, selling photographic and artistic supplies and specializing in portrait photography. John Griffiths is credited with introducing to Canada a process for mounting photographs on porcelain. In 1867 John married Ann Wonacott and over the next several years they had seven children together. In 1875 he retired to a farm outside London and with his brother helped establish the Western School of Art, becoming the first principal of the school. Griffiths continued to paint both on canvas and on china throughout his life. In 1886 he received two medals for china painting at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition held in London, England. John Griffiths died in 1898.

Works by James Griffiths and John Griffiths are represented in major public collections in Canada, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; the Art Gallery of Windsor; and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. An travelling exhibition acknowledging the artistic contribution of James and John Griffiths, curated by Ann Davis, was held in 1989-1990 at the Art Gallery of Windsor, the London Regional Art and Historical Museums, London, Ontario; the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax; and the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

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Scope and Content

The scrapbook is divided into two segments and consists of newspaper clippings, photographs, and ephemera, related to the artists James Griffiths and John Griffiths, and their descendants. The newspaper clippings in the first segment include exhibition reviews and various obituaries for both James Griffiths and John Griffiths. Also included are clippings related to the career of Isabel Griffiths Pike and Margaret Griffiths, granddaughters of John Griffiths. There are in addition three photographs, including one of the residence of James Griffiths in London, Ontario, and another showing Isabel Griffiths Pike; four etchings by J.W.H. Watts; and two unattributed ink drawings. The second segment of the scrapbook consists of clippings on various subjects and photographs compiled by John Griffiths's daughter, Martha Elizabeth Griffiths Adams. Photographs, mainly cyanotypes, show family and friends and include serveral taken while on holiday in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1903. There is also one collodion photograph showing the residence of John Griffiths in London, Ontario.

Source of title: Title based on contents of series.

Immediate source of acquisition: Donated by Isabel Griffiths Pike, the granddaughter of John H. Griffiths, in 1979.

Physical description: The scrapbook includes 21 photographs, 4 etchings, and 2 drawings. In addition to the items glued to the scrapbook pages, there are several loose items.

Physical condition: The spine has deteriorated and flaked off the binding. The front cover and ten pages are also detached from the binding.

Terms governing use and reproduction: For permission to reproduce or publish material from the James Griffiths and the John Griffiths scrapbook, a written request must be made to the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives.

Finding aids: Fonds level description available.

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Index Terms

Names:
Griffiths, James, 1814-1896
Griffiths, John, 1826-1898
Watts, John William Hurrell, 1850-1917
Document Types:
Drawings.
Etchings.
Newspaper clippings.
Photographs.

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Administrative Information

Processing Information

Collection arranged and described by Philip Dombowsky in 2014.

Preferred Citation

[Title of item], James Griffiths and John Griffiths Scrapbook, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives.

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Contact Information

Cyndie Campbell
Head, Archives, Documentation and Visual Resources 
Library and Archives 
National Gallery of Canada 
380 Sussex Drive 
P.O. Box 427, Station A 
Ottawa, Ontario 
K1N 9N4 

T 613-990-0597 
F 613-990-9818 

 
ccampbel@gallery.ca 


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