Curator's Notebook

October, 2012

We are very proud to announce the official launch of our North American tour of Masterworks from the Beaverbrook Art Gallery at the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach, Florida, in February, 2013. This large-scale exhibition highlights the Gallery’s first and founding strength – our permanent collection of important Masterworks, the most significant and valuable art collection in Atlantic Canada, and one of the finest and most important holdings of British art in North America. 

Lord Beaverbrook took a proactive approach towards establishing a world-class art collection by enlisting numerous international art experts to advise him on key acquisitions, and by directing his charitable foundations (the UK Beaverbrook Foundation and the Canadian Beaverbrook Foundation) to fill the Gallery with works of art of only the very best quality. These initiatives, in his words, were “of great assistance in our attempts to achieve a higher and higher standard of pictures in the gallery.” Among the many generous benefactions he bestowed upon New Brunswick, and there are a multitude of them, the extraordinary collection of Masterworks is arguably his greatest.

Masterworks from the Beaverbrook Art Gallery is reflective of Lord Beaverbrook’s well-defined collecting program, which focused on British and Canadian art from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, and was inclusive of the work of prominent and promising painters of his day whom he befriended and supported, as well as important works donated by many of his friends and associates. The exhibition is curated by Terry Graff, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, and features seventy-five works of art by world-renowned artists, such as Gainsborough, Constable, Copley, Delacroix, Reynolds, Sargent, Sickert, Sisley, Sutherland, Turner, Freud, and Dali, and by seminal artists in the history of Canadian art, such as Krieghoff, Morrice, Harris, and Carr, and many others.

From February 2 to March 31, 2013, Masterworks from the Beaverbrook Art Gallery will be on view at the Society of the Four Arts, a non-profit cultural organization on the Intracoastal Waterway in Palm Beach, Florida. The Society of the Four Arts was founded in 1936 to meet the cultural needs of a vibrant resort community, and includes the Esther B. O’Keeffe Art Gallery, which was designed by architect Addison Mizner (1872-1933), beautiful sculpture and botanical gardens, a concert hall auditorium, and two libraries. After presentation in Florida, the exhibition will tour various venues in the United States and Canada over a period of three years. Accompanying the exhibition is a lavish hard-cover book co-published by the Gallery and Goose Lane editions, and featuring colour reproductions of all of the works in the exhibition, an essay on the history of the collection and commentaries on individual works by curator Terry Graff, and essays on select masterworks by six major art writers: Elliott H. King, art historian and Dalí scholar; James Hamilton, author of Turner: A Life; Richard Calvocoressi, Director of the Henry Moore Foundation; Angus Stewart, writer-curator; and Katharine Eustace, art historian. Rounding out the book is an overview on the recent dispute with the Beaverbrook UK Foundation over ownership of works of art in the collection by Director and CEO Bernard Riordon and Marty Klinkenberg.

Masterworks from the Beaverbrook Art Gallery was conceived in 2009 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and the designation of the city of Fredericton as a cultural capital of Canada. Building on a long history of sharing and making accessible our permanent collection, it constitutes the first national and international touring exhibition of the Gallery’s most prestigious holdings for the appreciation and enjoyment of audiences in North America. The exhibition is funded by the Museums Assistance Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage, by our Presenting Sponsor TD Bank Group, and by the law firm of McInnes Cooper. The American part of the tour is organized by exhibition Design Group, Washington, DC.