Adult Programs

The First Brush: Paul Kane and Infrared Reflectography

Pre-registration is required. 

“He made no attempt to idealize” and “truthfulness to life” were the familiar 19th and early 20th century overtures in reference to the paintings of Paul Kane (1810–1871).  Developed in his Toronto studio during the 1850s, and inspired by more than 600 field sketches,  Kane’s cycle of 100 oil paintings are the single most important collection of paintings documenting 19th century Canada and Native life. But how do his field sketches and his studio paintings compare? And further, what do we learn when we “peel away” the face layers of paint and shed light on the deeper surfaces? Through a photographic technique known as “infrared reflectography imaging” we find that many of Kane’s paintings are true to his sketches and he was secure in his formal renderings. But we also see that in some cases he was hesitant and made alterations to his initial views. This current research exposes elements of Kane’s technique and introduces intrigue as some of his alterations, now exposed, are revealing as they are also mysterious.

This event is brought to you by Friends of Canadian Collections/Amis des collections canadiennes.


Royal Ontario Museum

Bloor Street (main entrance)

Main Entrance ►


Ken Lister, Assistant Curator (Arctic, Subarctic & Native Watercraft), World Cultures, Canada, World Art & Culture, ROM



Belong at the ROM

ROM membership is your best value!  Join now and save on selected programs and events.