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News / April 4, 2018

National Gallery of Canada Deaccessions Eight More Objects

It's not just Chagall. Following Christie's announcement that it will be auctioning off the National Gallery of Canada's La Tour Eiffel, the gallery has shared that it is deaccessioning more from its permanent collection
A view of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. Photo: Twitter. A view of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. Photo: Twitter.

It’s not just Chagall.

Following Christie’s announcement that it will be auctioning off the National Gallery of Canada’s La Tour Eiffel by Marc Chagall for $6 to $9 million USD on May 15, the gallery has shared that it is deaccessioning eight more objects from its permanent collection.

None of these other eight objects are as well known or as highly valued as the Chagall.

But it still remains notable that the National Gallery is moving ahead with deaccessions publicly after decades of it being a slow, quiet activity for the institution. And many in the Canadian art scene are wondering what other artwork (or artworks) they will purchase with the proceeds.

According to National Gallery of Canada disposition policies, all proceeds of artwork sales must go back into acquisitions—specifically, acquisitions made “as part of the Gallery’s effort to refine and improve its collections, in keeping with the collecting criteria approved by the Board of Trustees.” (These criteria prioritize collecting Canadian and Indigenous artworks over European and American artworks.)

And so: here are the other objects that the National Gallery of Canada has said it is deaccessioning:

1. Mummy Portrait of a Woman ca. 1–200, Beeswax on wood; 38.1 × 21.6 cm. From Egypt in the Roman period. Says the gallery, this work “no longer fall[s] under our collection mandate and we do not have comparable examples to provide context. As a result, [it] ha[s] not been displayed at the Gallery for decades. Canadian museums have important examples of all these objects.” The gallery is selling this object.

2. Fragment of a Relief with a Human-headed Winged Genius before the Sacred Tree, 883–859 BCE. Gypsum alabaster, 75.6 × 70.5 cm. From Assyria. Says the gallery, this work “no longer fall[s] under our collection mandate and we do not have comparable examples to provide context. As a result, [it] ha[s] not been displayed at the Gallery for decades. Canadian museums have important examples of all these objects.” The gallery is selling this object.

3. Fragment of a Relief with Two Soldiers, 883–859 BCE. Gypsum alabaster; 41.9 × 53.3 cm. From Assyria. Says the gallery, this work “no longer fall[s] under our collection mandate and we do not have comparable examples to provide context. As a result, [it] ha[s] not been displayed at the Gallery for decades. Canadian museums have important examples of all these objects.” The gallery is selling this object.

4. John Watson Gordon, George Ramsay, 9th Earl of Dalhousie, 1829. Oil on canvas, 245.7 × 156 cm. Says the gallery, “Lord Dalhousie served as Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia in 1816, then served as Governor-in-chief of British North America in 1820–1828. We have rarely displayed the painting, so have offered it to Library and Archives Canada.”

5. James Green, John Arthur Roebuck, 1833. Oil on canvas, 77.0 × 63.5 cm. Says the gallery: “Roebuck spent part of his youth in Upper Canada, before emigrating to Britain, where he later served as a Member of Parliament. We have offered the painting to Library and Archives Canada, which holds an important collection of Roebuck’s manuscripts and is the right home for the work.”

6. George Koberwein after a work by Frederick Richard Say, Charles Theophilus, Lord Metcalfe, original 1843, copy ca. 1859–1876. Oil on canvas, 206.0 × 139.0 cm. Says the gallery, “Lord Metcalfe was Governor-in-chief of the Province of Canada during 1843–1845. This is a copy of another portrait, not an original work of art, and we have never shown it at the Gallery. We have offered this work to Library and Archives Canada.”

7. Edward Francis Toone Theed after a work by Alexander Munro, 5th Duke of Newcastle, original 1864, copy 1887. Marble; 84.0 cm high. The gallery states, “The 5th Duke of Newcastle served in various capacities in the British government. This bust is a copy, not an original work of art; we have shown it only once in all its years at the National Gallery of Canada. The bust was originally given to the Library of Parliament, and we have offered to return it to its proper home.”

8. HM Queen Mary, Queen Mary’s Carpet, 1941–1950. Gros point embroidery in wool on cotton canvas, 310.0 × 207.0 cm. Says the gallery, “The Gallery has preserved and studied the work, displayed it periodically, and lent it to other institutions for exhibition. Regrettably, the Gallery cannot offer a meaningful context for the work and thus opportunities for future public presentation are rare. We are in discussions to find a more suitable home for the embroidered carpet.”

Leah Sandals

Leah Sandals is news and special sections editor at Canadian Art. A graduate of NSCAD University and McGill University, she has also written for the Toronto Star, National Post and Globe and Mail. She welcomes tips, corrections and comments anytime at leah@canadianart.ca.