Masterworks from the Beaverbrook Art Gallery

May 23    |    Travelling Exhibition    |    Cost:

Various Artists - Permanent Collection

Building on a long history of sharing and making accessible the permanent collection, Masterworks from the Beaverbrook Art Gallery 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. Masterworks from the Beaverbrook Art Gallery was organized 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. Representative of the distinctive quality of the permanent collection, it features 75 historical works of art by world-renowned artists, such as Gainsborough, Reynolds, Constable, Delacroix, 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. Curated by Terry Graff, the Gallery’s Director/CEO and Chief Curator, and funded by presenting sponsor TD Bank Group, the law firm of McInnes Cooper, and the Museums Assistance Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage, it presents the remarkable legacy of the multi-millionaire business tycoon, newspaper publisher, politician, personal confidant of Sir Winston Churchill, and great philanthropist, Lord Beaverbrook, or Sir William Maxwell (Max) Aitken (1879-1964).

Among the many generous benefactions Aitken bestowed upon New Brunswick, and there are a multitude of them, the greatest is arguably his magnificent collection of masterworks and the creation of a purpose-built art gallery in which to house them. In 1959, at the opening of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Premier Hugh John Flemming stated: “No man could make a finer, richer, more enduring gift to his friends than Lord Beaverbrook is now giving to the Province of New Brunswick.” Dr. W.G. Constable, curator of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and a former director of the National Gallery in London, England, referred to his gift as “incomparably the greatest contribution made by Lord Beaverbrook to the arts in Canada.” Time magazine called it “Beaver’s Greatest Landmark”.

Beaverbrook was an entrepreneur extraordinaire who took a proactive approach towards establishing a world-class art collection by enlisting numerous international art experts to advise him on key acquisitions, and encouraging colleagues and acquaintances to also donate paintings to the Gallery. Inclusive of the work of prominent and promising painters of his day whom he befriended and supported, he directed his charitable foundations (the Beaverbrook (UK) Foundation and the Beaverbrook Canadian 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.” A total of 323 works of art were gifted to the people of New Brunswick at the Gallery’s inception.

The North American tour of Masterworks from the Beaverbrook Art Gallery will be launched at the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach, Florida, on February 1, 2013, and the exhibition will be on view there until March 31, 2013. It will then travel to various venues in the United States and Canada over a period of three years. Accompanying the exhibition will be a lavish hard-cover book co-published by the Gallery and Goose Lane Editions, and featuring 75 full-page colour reproductions, an essay on the history of the collection and individual commentaries on the artworks by Terry Graff, and essays on select masterpieces by six major writer-critics: art historian and Dalí scholar Elliott H. King; James Hamilton, author of Turner: A Life; Richard Calvocoressi, Director of the Henry Moore Foundation; writer-curator Angus Stewart; and art historian Katharine Eustace. Rounding out the book is an essay on the recent dispute with the Beaverbrook (UK) Foundation over ownership of works of art in the permanent collection by Marty Klinkenberg and Director Emeritus Riordon.

According to Terry Graff, “This exhibition represents the crème de la crème of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery’s permanent collection, which many consider Lord Beaverbrook’s greatest legacy and New Brunswick’s greatest cultural asset. Like all collections, it tells stories and paints a compelling portrait of the personality and life of the collector. It is surprising that Hollywood has not as yet made a movie of Lord Beaverbrook’s epic life.”

Director Emeritus Riordon states: “The Beaverbrook Art Gallery is proud to share this extraordinary touring exhibition and publication with audiences in North America, as we play a strong ambassadorial role for the province of New Brunswick and Canada, and fulfill our vision of “enriching life through art.” We are grateful to the TD Bank Group, McInnes Cooper, and the Museums Assistance Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage for making this important project possible.”

The United States segment of the tour has been organized by Exhibits Development Group, Washington, DC. After presentation at the Society of the Four Arts in Florida, the exhibition will travel to the Mobile Museum of Art in Mobile, Alabama. The Canadian tour includes the Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta; the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba; the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery, Sarnia, Ontario; and the Rooms Provincial Art Gallery, St. John’s, Newfoundland.


Masterworks Itinerary - Venues to date

Please check back for more details about upcoming venues and dates.

Feb. 1st  – Mar. 31st, 2013
Society of the Four Arts
Palm Beach, FL.

Salvador Dali Museum
Saint Petersburg, FL

* Salvador Dali's Santiago el Grande, Equestrian Fantasy, and James Dunn (La Turbie) are currently exhibited at the Salvador Dali Museum

November 15, 2013 - April 27, 2014
Mobile Museum of Art
Mobile, Alabama, USA

While Dali's Santiago el Grande remains in Saint Petersburg (see above), the other Masterworks will be displayed in Mobile, AL.


May 24 - August 24, 2014
Glenbow Museum
Calgary, AB



September 27, 2014 to January 25, 2015
Winnipeg Art Gallery
Winnipeg, MB

May 2, 2015 to August 23, 2015
Beaverbrook Art Gallery
Fredericton, NB


September 2015 - February 2016
Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery
Sarnia, ON



June 17, 2016 - September 11, 2016
Audain Art Museum
Whistler, BC

* The above is not a complete list of venues and dates; additional details will be added as they become available. All dates and other details subject to change.

Click here for our blog posts related to this exhibition, and keep up with it as it tours North America!