TABLE OF CONTENTS
Vernon K. Gill fonds:
Vernon Kingsley Gill was born in Brighton, England, in 1892, the son of Arthur Tidman Gill (1849-1933), a non-conformist minister, and Cicely Rose King (1855-1929), a former light opera singer. One of eleven children, Vernon was the twin brother of Evan Robertson Gill (1892-1968). His eldest brother, Arthur Eric Rowton Gill (1882-1940), was an acclaimed sculptor, engraver, and typographer.
Vernon Gill immigrated to Canada in 1910. He first settled in Bartonville, near Hamilton, Ontario, before moving to Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1912. His twin brother Evan had settled there a few months earlier and was employed by the Imperial Bank. Not long after arriving in Regina, Vernon and Evan joined the 26th Battery of the Canadian Field Artillery, and in September 1914 they both volunteered for service in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. After the First World War, Vernon pursued a career as an accountant in the audit department of the Saskatchewan Department of Natural Resources. He married Rhoda Isabel Smith in October 1919 and had two daughters, Cicely and Isabel, born in 1921 and 1928, respectively. During the Second World War, Vernon was seconded to serve in the 2nd Battalion, South Saskatchewan, in Dundurn and Weyburn, Saskatchewan. He retired from the civil service in April 1957.
Throughout his life, Vernon Gill devoted much of his free time to documenting the career of his eldest brother, Arthur Eric Rowton (known as Eric), bringing together published and other material related to Eric's oeuvre and promoting his career through exhibitions and lectures. In April 1950 he arranged a display of books, photographs, and other documents related to Eric's work at the Saskatchewan Legislative Library in Regina. Among the items presented was the first printing of G.K. Chesterton's poem Gloria in Profoundis, a volume whose cover and title page are decorated with wood engravings by Eric Gill. Vernon also helped to organize an exhibition of books, wood engravings, and other items from his collection at the Murray Memorial Library, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, in October 1956. Along with the exhibition, he presented a lecture on Eric to the Saskatoon branch of the Humanities Association of Canada. In gathering together his collection of material related to his brother, or "Gilliana," as he called it, Vernon Gill was assisted by his twin brother, Evan, whose own devotion to Eric was evident in the publications, Bibliography of Eric Gill (London: Cassell & Co. Ltd., 1953) and The Inscriptional Work of Eric Gill (London: Cassell & Co. Ltd., 1964). The two books remain standard reference volumes for Eric Gill scholars.
Eric Gill, a distinguished sculptor, engraver, typographer, writer, and lecturer, received his art education at the Chichester Art School, and was apprenticed at the age of 18 to the architect W.D. Caröe (1857-1938), based in London, England. While articling with Caröe, Gill enrolled in classes in practical masonry at the Westminster Technical Institute, and studied lettering at the Central School of Arts and Crafts under the well-known calligrapher Edward Johnston (1872-1944). Gill converted to Roman Catholicism in 1913 at the age of 31, and most of his work following that date reflected his growing concern with the nature of humanity and human existence as divinely inspired.
As a sculptor, Gill is best known for the Stations of the Cross in Westminster Cathedral, London (1914-1918); the War Memorial at Leeds University (1917); the figures of Prospero and Ariel over the entrance to Broadcasting House, the headquarters of the British Broadcasting Corporation (1932); ten panels for the Palestine Museum, Jerusalem (1934); and three bas-reliefs for the League of Nations Palace, Geneva (1935-1938). Gill was also a prolific engraver, producing a large number of engravings for book illustration, as well also numerous bookplates and Christmas cards. Gill's most famous book illustrations were for Troilus and Criseyde (1927), The Canterbury Tales (1929) and The Four Gospels (1931), all published by the Golden Cockerel Press, Waltham Saint Lawrence, Berkshire, England. Eric Gill died in Uxbridge, England, in 1940.
The fonds consists of printed matter and other material, correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, and typescripts relating to the career of Eric Gill, a celebrated British sculptor, engraver, and writer active during the first half of the twentieth century. The collection was accumulated and organized in the form of scrapbooks by Gill's younger brother, Vernon Kingsley Gill, over a period of several decades. Most of the printed items in the fonds, including booklets, brochures, bookplates, and Christmas cards, depict examples of Gill's engraving and typographical work. Correspondence includes several letters from Eric Gill to Vernon Gill, as well as copies of letters from Eric Gill to various friends and colleagues. There is also substantial correspondence between Vernon Gill and his twin brother, Evan Gill.
Photographs in the fonds depict Eric Gill; members of Gill's family, including his wife, Mary Ethel, and their three daughters, Joanna, Elizabeth, and Petra; and examples of Gill's sculptural and other work. Newspaper clippings include reviews of exhibitions in which Eric Gill participated, accounts of various works produced by the artist, and notices of exhibitions and events organized by Vernon Gill. In addition to documentation pertaining to exhibitions supported by Vernon Gill in Regina (1950) and Saskatoon (1956), including the typescript for Vernon's talk to the Humanities Association at the Murray Memorial Library, University of Saskatchewan, in October 1956, the fonds includes several files related to a symposium entitled Life and Works of Eric Gill, held at the William Andrews Clark Library, University of California, Los Angeles, on April 22, 1967.
The fonds also includes three woodblocks designed by Eric Gill for illustrations in two books published by the Golden Cockerel Press (Troilus and Criseyde, 1927, and The Canterbury Tales, 1929-1931); bookplates designed by Eric Gill for John Maurice Rothenstein (1920) and Morley Kennerly (1937); two wood engravings by Eric Gill, including one showing Eric's daughter, Elizabeth; a watercolour drawing by Eric Gill's daughter, Petra; a watercolour by Eric Gill's granddaughter, Jane Peplar, depicting a proposed window for the Church of St. Nicholas, Bradfield, Yorkshire; and a graphite drawing by the Gill's nanny, Helena Hall.
Source of title proper: Title based on contents of fonds.
Physical description: Other material includes 2 watercolours, 2 engravings, 1 graphite drawing, 3 bookplates, and 3 woodblocks. Photographs include 118 b&w photographs, 4 b&w negatives, and 15 colour photographs.
Immediate source of acquisition: Donated to the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives by Evan Quick, the grandson of Vernon Gill, in 2013.
Language: Text is in English.
Terms governing use and reproduction: Permission to reproduce or publish material from the Vernon K. Gill fonds must be obtained from the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives.
Finding aids: Fonds level description and box list available.
Associated materials: The collection of the National Gallery of Canada includes 5 woodcuts, 1 woodblock, 10 wood engravings, and 1 graphite drawing by Eric Gill.
Accruals: No further accruals are expected
Collection processed and finding aid prepared by Philip Dombowsky in 2015.
[Title of item], Vernon K. Gill fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives.
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