Journal of Canadian Art History / Annales d'histoire de l'art canadien

Archive of past issues

Vol. V:2 (1981)


Paul Kane Paintings Rediscovered

Susan J. Stewart

Six Paul Kane oil paintings originally obtained from the artist by Sir George Simpson have recently been discovered in the collection of a Simpson descendant in Scotland. Simpson's great-great-grandson, a descendant through his daughter Margaret Mackenzie, inherited these works together with a few watercolours and a quantity of native Indian artifacts. The author's enquiries to the owner resulted in the discovery of the Kane paintings in a trunk, where they have lain for over a century.

Documents from the 1840's provide us with a provenance for the paintings. Evidence suggests that four of the group were part of Kane's major exhibition in Toronto in the fall of 1848, that they were painted while Kane was on his travels across North America, and that they formed part of a group of ten sent to Simpson in early 1849.

La gravure dans l'œuvre de Rodolphe Duguay (1891–1973)

Jean-René Ostiguy

Les peintres graveurs accordent une importance particulière au dessin. Or il ne fait pas de doute que Rodolphe Duguay compte parmi les meilleurs dessinateurs du pays. La lecture des Carnets intimes de l'artiste, lesquels ont paru récemment, nous renseignent sur son extraordinaire intérêt pour ce médium. Il note par exemple, le 8 avril 1918: «Cet après-midi chez Suzor-Côté. Il aime surtout mes croquis. Il m'a conseillé d'en faire beaucoup—.» Puis, le 18 du même mois: «56 croquis depuis jeudi dernier. Je me ressens des conseils de Suzor. Deux visites à son atelier m'ont valu trois ans chez Delfosse.» Continuellement, à intervalles réguliers, Rodolphe Duguay nous parle de dessins dans ses carnets intimes. Puis, si l'on daigne feuilleter les huit albums à feuilles mobiles que conservent la Maison Rodolphe Duguay à Nicolet, on se rend compte que l'artiste a gardé son habitude jusqu'aux années soixante. Bien plus encore, la connaissance de ces cahiers révèlent que Duguay se compare favorablement à James Wilson Morrice (1865–1924) et A. Y. Jackson (1882-1974) sur le plan de la qualité et du nombre de ses petits croquis.

translated summary:

Engraving in the Work of Rodolphe Duguay (1891–1973)

If, in many ways, the numerous small Rodolphe Duguay drawings can be compared in quality to those of J.W. Morrice and A.Y. Jackson, there is one way in which they no doubt present a difference: they very often relate to the artist's woodblock prints. As early as 1911, Duguay took drawing and painting lessons in various Montreal schools and studios and during his stay in France from 1920 to 1927 he drew regularly from the model in several academies. It may not be by sheer coincidence that he stopped doing so when he began the practice of printmaking. He began buying books on the technique in France in 1925. He bought one on book illustration just before his return to Nicolet, his hometown, and it is in France that he adopted the habit of working the themes of his more successful paintings for wood block prints in the style of Auguste Lepère.

Notes and Commentary

Fashion-Plates: Sources for Canadian Fashion

Norma Morgan

The term "fashion-plate" brings to mind the image of a woman dressed in the latest style looking as if she has just stepped out of the pages of Vogue or, in fact, like a fashion-plate. Engraved fashion-plates illustrating the newest fashions were first seen in women's journals in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. They varied in size from small prints with a single figure to larger folded impressions depicting several costumes and were often hand-coloured. Just as fashionable women do today, women of the nineteenth century wanted to see illustrations of the current styles in order to model their costumes after them.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, portraits and photographs often seem to focus conspicuous attention on the costume of the sitter. Some women appear to have been photographed as much to record their fashions as their features. A few posed in a new costume nearly every year and the obvious pride in their clothes suggests that they were in the latest style. That the latter is true, can be shown by a comparison of photographs in the Notman Photographic Archives with contemporary fashion-plates.

Sources and Documents

An Index of Miniaturists and Silhouettists who worked in Montréal

Roslyn Rosenfeld

This index identifies the artists who created miniatures and silhouettes in Montréal between 1760 and I860. These charming minor art forms offered smaller, cheaper or more intimate alternatives to the full-scale portraiture practised in the province at that time, providing the sort of personal memento that could be carried with one, pressed into an album or even worn in a locket or brooch. This special market was too limited in the colonial centres of British North America to foster indigenous schools of miniature-painting and silhouette-taking (as occurred in the United States, or with full-scale portraiture in Québec) so creation of these works remained in the hands of itinerant artists. These artists arrived from the busier art centres of New York or Boston or from overseas, set up shop for a few weeks, advertised their skills in the newspapers or in a shop window and, when business declined, moved on to the next colonial centre. While miniatures and silhouettes are found in many Montréal collections, the great majority are both unsigned and unattributed, and so little is known of their creators.

Biography and Bibliography of the Writings of Donald William Buchanan (1908–1966)

Gloria Lesser

Donald William Buchanan is best known to the readers of The Journal as an historian of Canadian art. But he was also a pioneer in other fields and his interests there, like those in Canadian art, were widely expressed in his writings. Thus he published articles in such diverse areas as radio, film, film reviews, industrial design, art criticism, art history, photography, wine, travel and history. A man of wide-ranging interests in an age of increasing specialization, Buchanan promoted and implemented many new and significant public cultural activities, the results of which are still felt today.


The Contemporary Arts Society / La société d'art contemporain Montréal 1939–1948

Christopher Varley

Sandra Paikowsky

In recent years, attempts have been made in several publications to place the Contemporary Arts Society within the context of modern art's acceptance in Canada. As a result, the C.A.S. seems to represent this country's first collective commitment to modernism. With Christopher Varley's exhibition and accompanying catalogue, the Society's history and achievements have now been justly documented. The catalogue undeniably confirms the essential role played by the C.A.S. in liberating Canadian art from parochialism and insularity.

To those unfamiliar with its history, the Contemporary Arts Society was a purely Montréal phenomenon and, perhaps until recently, its influence did not really extend beyond Québec. But in the heart and mind of its pater familias John Lyman, it was a challenge directed at the complacent national style and borderless domination of the Group of Seven. Invigorated by his experience of the energy of Paris and equally demoralized by the retrograde traditionalism of Montréal, Lyman created in 1939 his main vehicle for publicizing "modern art." The C.A.S. also functioned as a forum for the modernist theory of art that he had learned three decades earlier from Matisse. Lyman's ambition for himself and for the Society was enormous, sometimes outstripping the ambitions of its painters.

Dessin et surréalisme au Québec

Réal Lussier

Reesa Greenberg

Despite scholarly interest in Québec Surrealism and its ramifications over the past decade, the Surrealist drawings created by Montreal's avant-garde artists during the period 1943–57 have received little attention. Dessin et surréalisme au Québec is a welcome publication on the subject and the first to attempt an overview of Québec surrealist drawing praxis.

Published in conjunction with a travelling exhibition of thirty-one drawings by seventeen artists organized by the Musée d'art contemporain, the catalogue is divided into four parts: an essay by Réal Lussier, artists' statements, plates, and a list of works in the exhibition which includes biographical information about the artists. Its value is threefold: the reproduction of little known work; a synoptic history of the movement and its artists, incorporating the findings of recent scholarship; and a published record of fifteen works from the museum's collection. Both its text and plates must be considered in future discussions of Surrealism in Québec.

Publication Notice

The Gallery School 1939–1980: A Celebration

Shirley Yanover

Leah Sherman

Art education in Canada is becoming aware of its past and is searching for its roots. Its history coincides in time with that of the educational programme of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Shirley Yanover has written an account of the Gallery School on the occasion of its fiftieth birthday, tracing its development from its origins in the twenties to its present day active and varied role as an educational department.

An important person in the history of the Gallery School and in the history of Canadian art education was Arthur Lismer. Lismer was responsible for setting up the children's art classes at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1930. From 1930 to 1938 he organized and ran a large range of educational activities which included public lectures, extension exhibitions, and gallery tours. His main contribution, however, to Canadian art education, was his work with children. It is Yanover's account of the Lismer years, and her quotations from the people who worked with him, that gives this little book its place in the work of documenting the roots of contemporary art teaching in Canada.