The National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives holds several special collections, which include auction catalogues, documentation and visual resources.
The Library holds a collection of about 50,000 auction catalogues, of which nearly 4,000 are Canadian. Current subscriptions are maintained with Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Hôtel Drouot in Paris, as well as with auction houses across Canada, and a number of other catalogues that focus on fine and decorative arts, photography and book sales. Most catalogues date from the 1880s onwards, with a few from the early 19th century. Photocopies of 19th century and other rare Canadian catalogues have been acquired and the Library also holds three substantial microform publications of auction catalogues: the Knoedler Library, Art Sales Catalogues from 1600–1900 (on microfiche) and Sotheby’s Catalogues of Sales, Part III from 1901–1945 (on microfilm).
The Documentation collection consists of more than 80,000 files that contain information on the National Gallery of Canada, on Canadian art schools, galleries, and societies, and on Canadian and non-Canadian artists, museums, collectors, curators, art historians, art administrators and trustees.
Files may contain newspaper clippings, press releases, obituaries, exhibition notices and other printed ephemera, as well as biographical information supplied by the artists. The files are divided between Canadian and non-Canadian material and their scope reflects the collecting areas of the National Gallery.
The Library’s documentation files on Canadian artists are listed in the Artists in Canada database, which is compiled and maintained by the National Gallery of Canada Library.
Visual Resources collections encompass more than 182,000 slides of works of art in Canada, North America and western Europe, with special emphasis on National Gallery of Canada collections and exhibitions. The Library retains historical installation slides of the Gallery’s permanent collection and exhibitions, as well as slides which document the Gallery buildings, previous and present.
The Library and Archives holds digital images of National Gallery exhibition installations and items from the Library and Archives that have been photographed or scanned, as well as selected digital image files produced or obtained by the National Gallery that are not related to the permanent collection.
The Library holds nearly 360,000 research photographs that document the collections and activities of the National Gallery, as well as Canadian and non-Canadian works of art held in North American and European collections. The collection contains outstanding special resources, including the Gernsheim Corpus Photographicum (complete to 1984), the Decimal Index of the Art of the Low Countries, the Fotografie della societa anonima D. Anderson and the photographs that accompany The Illustrated Bartsch. An important group of original and, in some cases, rare photographs is included in the Library’s collection. Many of these document the history of the National Gallery of Canada, its buildings, exhibitions, personalities and special events.
Among its extensive visual collections in microform, the Library’s holdings include The Early Alinari Photographic Archive of Art and Architecture in Italy; Architecture and Monuments in France; Architecture and Early Photography in France; The Conway Library; The Witt Library; and the Marburger Index: Bilddokumentation zur Kunst in Deutschland.
Special Collections contain exceptional materials such as rare Canadian and foreign imprints, early illustrated books, Canadian bookplates and contemporary artist books and multiples, as well as notable subject collections, among them the Art Metropole and Kodak collections, as well as the Vernon K. Gill collection, relating to Eric Gill; holdings related to Canadian artists, such as Franklin Carmichael, Charles Fraser Comfort, Carl Fellman Schaefer, Fritz Brandtner, C.W. Jefferys and Virgil Burnett; and those related to historians of Canadian art, such as J. Russell Harper, Jacqueline Fry, Doris Shadbolt, Sandra Buhai Barz, and Bruce Russell.