The three articles that constitute this year’s National Gallery of Canada Review all draw from the National Gallery’s excellent Library and Archives holdings. They shed light on an early twentieth century photographic album, highlight issues of photographic conservation (the Library of the National Gallery of Canada has the country’s best collection of historic, contemporary, and technical photographic literature), and bring the contribution of one of Canada’s most adventurous and internationally recognized curators to life through examination of the Brydon Smith Archive.
It is a testimony to the continuing legacy of dedicated scholarship at the National Gallery of Canada that two of the three articles in the 2020 National Gallery of Canada Review are authored by former staff members.
Charles Hill, celebrated for his precise chronicling of Canadian art history over a period of four decades, chronicles and analyzes “Artists & Architects circa 1908–1918,” an album of photographs of Canadian artists, architects, and writers in the National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives.
John McElhone, photographs conservation scientist and former Chief of Conservation and Technical Research at the National Gallery of Canada, brings his scientific training, expansive knowledge of the history of photography, and passion for research to bear upon the conservation of daguerreotypes and the elements of its presentation package. His article addresses the properties of glass degradation as this condition applies to the earliest most permanent photographic process.
Adam Welch, Associate Curator of Canadian Art, not only describes Brydon Smith’s curatorial practice in light of his making controversial acquisitions – first at the Art Gallery of Ontario and then at the National Gallery of Canada from the mid-1960s into the 1980s – but also elaborates on the cultural context of these acquisitions and the landmark exhibitions Smith generated.
Interim Chief Curator
Glass Deterioration and the Daguerreotype