National Gallery of Canada Library & Archives | Bibliothèque & Archives du Musée des beaux-arts du Canada
National Gallery of Canada Library & Archives | Bibliothèque & Archives du Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

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What catalogues are indexed?


19th century catalogues:

Broadly, the index includes all surviving catalogues of art exhibitions, auctions and permanent collections published in Canada during the nineteenth century, i.e., datable to before 1900. Most published catalogues were produced as independent documents, but a handful of those indexed appeared in the form of reviews, inserts or advertisements in newspapers. Four catalogues of which only manuscript copies survive have been included, as has one catalogue which survives only in the form of a published transcript. Although most of the catalogues were published in Canada, eight catalogues of international exhibitions held outside Canada have also been indexed, for their Canadian content only. In addition, two catalogues of solo exhibitions held outside Canada by Canadian artists have been indexed: one for Henry Sandham in Boston, Massachusetts, the other for Lucius O’Brien in London, England.


All National Gallery of Canada catalogues to 1930:

49 published catalogues and 65 unpublished checklists for exhibitions held at the National Gallery as well as exhibitions loaned to other institutions. With one exception, the checklists document exhibitions organized by the Gallery’s Prints and Drawings Department after its formation in 1921.


Catalogues of exhibitions held outside the National Gallery of Canada 1900-1930: in progress.


What is indexed within a catalogue?

“Art” covers paintings, watercolours, drawings and sculpture, as well as other media such as prints, photographs and decorative arts where these are included in a catalogue with the above. A handful of surviving 19th century catalogues of purely reproductive engravings, plaster casts or decorative arts have not been indexed. Catalogues of original etching and engraving works by artists, on the other hand, are included. Almost all the catalogues are indexed in their entirety. Only the Canadian content has been indexed in eight catalogues of international exhibitions held outside Canada. The catalogue of the 1899 loan portrait exhibition has not been indexed for the sections on medals, photographs and engravings, which are of historical rather than artistic interest. And the manuscript catalogue of the November 1848 Toronto Mechanics' Institute exhibition has been indexed excluding natural history specimens, apparatus and other items outside our field.


Additional notes


Misspellings in the original catalogue entries have been qualified with the correct spelling in square brackets. This has been done at discretion, however, to avoid the pedantic correction of many place names whose spelling was erratic at the time, e.g., Shawinigan, Shawenegan, Shawinegam, etc. [Sic] has been used very sparingly to indicate a transcribed error that might otherwise have looked like an error on our part.

Manuscript notes

Although three catalogues surviving only in manuscript rather than printed form have been indexed, manuscript additions and corrections in printed catalogues have not been recorded.


Almost all the catalogues indexed are in English. The wording of the original catalogue entries, including the titles of works, has not been translated from English into French, or vice versa. Medium is indicated in both English and French, because this information has been derived rather than always literally transcribed from the catalogues (see Medium below). Any matter supplied by us in square brackets appears in a bilingual or language-neutral format.


For more information:

Portions of the database have been published in print form, and additional information about the project is available in these volumes:

Index to nineteenth-century Canadian catalogues of art, by Jonathan Franklin. Ottawa: NGC Library and Archives Occasional Paper No. 6, 2004 (ISBN 0888847866)

Index to National Gallery of Canada exhibition catalogues and checklists to 1930, by Philip Dombowsky. Ottawa: NGC Library and Archives Occasional Paper No. 7, 2007 (ISBN 0888848352)

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