ROM acquires Paul Kane’s sketch Fishing by Torch Light

A rare piece of Canada's history is certified as being of "outstanding significance and national importance"

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is proud to announce the acquisition of Fishing by Torch Light, an 1845 oil-on-paper sketch by Canadian artist Paul Kane (1810-1871). The work was recently certified by the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board as being of “outstanding significance and national importance”. The acquisition of this sketch demonstrates the ROM’s commitment to the development of its incomparable Paul Kane collection and the preservation of his artistic legacy for Canadians.

The ROM has long held one of the finest collections relating to Canada’s First Peoples, an important cultural asset conveying their rich and varied histories. Collection highlights include 373 of Paul Kane’s field sketches and 100 studio oil paintings. Much of this collection—including the new acquisition—is displayed in the ROM’s Daphne Cockwell Gallery of Canada: First Peoples.

Kane’s contribution as an artist to the documentation of 19th century Canadian natural and cultural history is exceptional. No other artist – past, present, or future – has or will be in a position to accomplish the body of work produced by Paul Kane. The artist left behind not only his studio paintings, but his field sketches, many of which inspired the formal paintings he produced. The oil-on-canvas painting, Fishing by Torch Light (1849-1856), inspired by this newly acquired sketch, has been in the ROM’s collection since 1912 as part of a donation from Sir Edmund Osler.

In 1946, 373 of Paul Kane’s sketches were donated to the ROM by the great-grandson of Kane’s major patron, The Honourable George William Allan (1822-1901). Now, more than 60 years later, the ROM is fortunate to add the sketch Fishing by Torch Light (1845) acquired from G.W. Allan’s great-granddaughter, who is deeply aware of the long-standing relationship between Paul Kane, her family, and the Royal Ontario Museum.

Kenneth Lister, Assistant Curator of Anthropology in the ROM’s World Cultures department, says, “Paul Kane created more than 80 oil-on-paper sketches. With most of these in the United States, and only a small number in Canada, we are grateful to our many donors generously contributing to preserving the Fishing by Torch Light sketch in this country. The ROM is also very pleased that this work has been recognized by the Canadian government. Now, as part of the Museum’s holdings, the sketch is reunited with the Allan collection of sketches and, most significantly, it is back with the studio painting it inspired.”

Paul Kane generally worked in three media on three supports: graphite, watercolour, and oil on paper, oil on canvas, and oil on board. Until the Fishing by Torch Light sketch came to the ROM earlier this year, the Museum’s collection lacked a single example of an oil-on-paper sketch by the artist. While the ROM’s holdings of Paul Kane works are internationally renowned, the collection was notably incomplete.

The acquisition of Fishing by Torch Light, Paul Kane’s oil-on-paper sketch, was made possible with the generous support of the Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust, Gretchen and Donald Ross, the Daphne Cockwell Gallery of Canada: First Peoples Acquisition Fund, Mr. and Mrs. Albert Milstein, Friends of the Canadian Collections and contributions from Laura Adams, Gyrus Investment Management, Flavia Redelmeier, the Frank and Emily Riddell Memorial Fund, Mark Schmeer, the Elizabeth Walter Endowment Fund and Susan Witteveen.

The Fishing by Torch Light sketch has been certified by the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act as being of “outstanding significance and national importance" for Canada's national heritage.

Paul Kane/the Artist/: Wilderness to Studio

Kenneth R. Lister is the author of Paul Kane/the Artist/: Wilderness to Studio in which the sketch Fishing by Torch Light is featured. Kenneth Lister holds curatorial responsibility for the ROM’s Subarctic, Arctic, and Northwest Coast ethnographic collections of North America and its Paul Kane collection of sketches and oil paintings. Lister’s areas of research include field studies relating to sites sketched by Paul Kane. Published in 2010 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Paul Kane’s birth by Royal Ontario Museum Press, the book is available in the ROM Museum Store, bookstores, and online.

Since its publication, Paul Kane/the Artist/: Wilderness to Studio has received numerous citations, including:

Independent Publishers Book Awards (New York City)

Silver Medal in the Regional Category, Western Canada: Non-fiction

International Book Awards (Los Angeles)

Winner, Native American Studies

Winner, Art

Winner, History

Finalist, Best Cover Design

Finalist, Best Interior Design

International Design Awards (Los Angeles)

Finalist, Graphics Category
 


Paul Kane/the Artist/: Wilderness to Studio

Kenneth R. Lister

Royal Ontario Museum/ Hardcover/ December 2010/ ISBN 978-0-88854-480-3/

416 pages with 500+ images

The book is on sale in the ROM Museum Store for $60.00. Regular price: $75.00

ROM Members receive an additional 10 percent discount.

For more information on the book: publications@rom.on.ca or 416.586.5582.

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