The Arthur Lismer Collection - a treasure trove of art and archival material held by the estate of one of the country's most iconic artists - has been purchased by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection
with support from the Government of Canada.
The Arthur Lismer Collection represents a rare source of insight into the life and personality of one of the Group of Seven's founding members. The collection is currently in the possession of the artist's family, who are based in the United States. The Government of Canada has provided the McMichael with $73,820 in funding through the Moveable Cultural Property Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage in order to repatriate and preserve this singular collection of national significance.
"The McMichael is thrilled to be returning the Arthur Lismer Collection to Canada," said McMichael Executive Director and CEO, Victoria Dickenson. "Long regarded as the spiritual home of the Group of Seven, the gallery recognizes the national importance of this intimate collection and its potential as an educational resource. It is the McMichael's mission to encourage research and scholarship by sharing and preserving material that contributes to a better understanding of our national history. The gallery is honoured to provide this unique collection with a permanent home."
The items range from drawings, sketches, and cartoons, to photographs, films, diaries, manuscripts, and correspondence depicting all aspects of Lismer's life, extending as far back as his childhood in Sheffield, England. One of its most unusual and fascinating items is a series of more than 100 sketches found on menu cards and passenger lists from Lismer's travels, mostly aboard ocean cruise liners. The sketches depict Lismer's fellow passengers, their on-board activities, and the various ports of call.
The collection also includes some of Lismer's original writings, including a thirty-page autobiography, two notebooks outlining his ideas on art education, and an unpublished manuscript entitled Drawing and Sketching for Men of Action.
Funding for the collection was announced on October 28, 2013, by the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Member of Parliament (Vaughan), on behalf of the Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.
"Our Government is proud to invest in projects that contribute to our collective identity and define who we are as Canadians," said Minister Glover. "This acquisition will inform Canadians about one of the country's most important artists. Our Government is proud to have contributed to bringing back this valuable element of our national heritage."
The Arthur Lismer Collection is a valuable resource for scholars and researchers, and an important piece of the Canadian legacy. The McMichael will assess, catalogue, digitize, and exhibit the collection in order to provide access to and share the personal collection of one of Canada's most important and influential artists and teachers.