Art Gallery of Hamilton
Art Gallery of Hamilton from King St. W.
Today, the William Blair Bruce memorial donation is displayed in a dramatic salon-style hanging in what is the Art Gallery of Hamilton’s third home.
In 1947, the Gallery was a founding member of the Southern Ontario Gallery Group, now the Ontario Association of Art Galleries.
In December 1953, a new purpose-built gallery was opened at Forsyth Avenue and Main Street in west Hamilton. A little over a decade later, McMaster University unveiled plans to expropriate the lands on which the Gallery was built, halting plans to expand the Gallery in this location.
In 1977, the Gallery opened in its present location in the heart of the city as part of a downtown redevelopment project.
In 2005, a renovated Gallery reopened, with new gold-coloured steel cladding protecting the building, a glass-enclosed front entrance on King Street, a new multi-purpose pavilion, and larger and renovated exhibition spaces.
The AGH primary collection is based on Canadian historical, Canadian contemporary and European historical art. The European collection spans Baroque through Post-Impressionist Art, with particular emphasis on the French, British and Italian schools.
The collection of historical Canadian art was developed through the meticulous promotion of local, regional and national artists over the Gallery's 100-year history.
The Art Gallery of Hamilton’s collection of modern Canadian art is one of the strongest in the country, due, in no small part to the vision and efforts of Thomas Reid MacDonald (1908–1978), the Gallery’s first full-time director and curator. MacDonald soon inaugurated the Annual Winter Exhibition at the Gallery; this yearly exhibition was held from 1948-1973. These juried exhibitions provided artists with an important exhibition venue and also brought works to Hamilton that might be acquired by the Gallery. Typically around one hundred works were featured in each exhibition, with the purchase prize (generally donated by a local patron or business) entering the AGH permanent collection. In this way, many important works were acquired, such as A.J. Casson’s First Snow, Lilias Torrance Newton’s Keith MacIver, and the iconic Horse and Train by Alex Colville. Selected as the purchase prize in 1954, Horse and Train was panned by The Hamilton Spectator art critic Mary Mason, who wrote: “There are undoubtedly some very fine paintings out at the Art Gallery of Hamilton in this year’s Winter Show, but the winner of the purchase prize is not, alas, one of them.”
James Tissot, Croquet, 1878
William Blair Bruce, The Phantom Hunter, 1888
Émile Friant, Capital Punishment, 1908
Tom Thomson, The Birch Grove, Autumn, Winter 1915-16
Each year, the Gallery rotates its exhibitions 2-3 times a year, bringing in travelling exhibitions and curating their own. Visit the AGH website to see their current exhibitions.
- "Art Gallery of Hamilton". Archived from the original on 28 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-21.
- "Waldon, Freda Farrell | HPL". Hpl.ca. Retrieved 2016-08-10.
- Art Gallery of Hamilton (1989). The Art Gallery of Hamilton: seventy-five years (1914-1989). Hamilton, ON: Art Gallery of Hamilton. OCLC 28928142. ISBN 91-91531-19-9.
- Cable, Patrick Shaw (ed.) Heaven and Earth Unveiled: European Paintings from the Tanenbaum Collection, Hamilton: 2005
- Bruce, Tobi. "Lasting Impressions," Hamilton: 2005, pp. 18-19
- Bruce, Tobi. "Modern Ambition: A Canadian Collection Comes of Age" in Bruce, Tobi. (ed.) (2005), p. 17.
- Bruce, Tobi. "Modern Ambition: A Canadian Collection Comes of Age" in Bruce, Tobi. (ed.) (2005), pp. 24-25.
- Zemans, Joyce. "Considering the Canon" in Bruce, Tobi. (ed.) (2005), pp. 177-189.
- Mason, Mary (1957-02-01). "Fine Pictures at the Winter Show – But Prize-Winner Isn't One of Them". The Hamilton Spectator. Quoted in Bruce, Tobi (ed.). (2005), p. 26.
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