Exhibition: Arthur Lismer’s McGill Sketchbook

Arthur Lismer (1885-1969) Learned societies at McGill Ink on paper

Arthur Lismer (1885-1969) Learned societies at McGill. Ink on paper

Arthur Lismer artist, educator (b Sheffield 27 June 1885; d Montreal 23 Mar 1969)
Arthur Lismer lived and worked in Montreal from the 1940s until his death in 1969. A founding member of the Group of Seven (with Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Franz Johnston, J.E.H. Macdonald and F.H. Varley), Lismer dedicated his life to art education. Still relatively unknown and with little teaching experience, Lismer began his career as Head of the Victoria School of Art (today NSCAD University) 1916-1919. From Halifax, he spent the next 20 years in Toronto, first as Vice-Principal, Ontario College of Art (OCA) and later as supervisor of art education, Art Gallery of Toronto (today Art Gallery of Ontario). He moved to Montreal in 1940 to join the Art Association of Montreal (today the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts), where he established the MMFA School of Art and Design as one of the premier Canadian art training centres.

Lismer joined the McGill School of Architecture as a sessional lecturer in 1943 at the invitation of John Bland, the School’s director, and was appointed assistant professor in 1945. There he taught: the History of Art and Theory of Design; Freehand Drawing; and led the Sketching School with Gordon Webber. Lismer retired from McGill in 1955 at the age of seventy.

The exhibition
Rare Books and Special Collections, McGill University holds some 30 sketches by Arthur Lismer, executed between 1940-1969, during his McGill tenure and into his retirement. Lismer sketched throughout his life, filling dozens of sketchbooks, but also captured the world and the people around him on scraps of paper, in the margins of flyers and programs, and on paper napkins.

Arthur Lismer (1885-1969) Seated figures; Professor F. Howes and Professor Hebb, 1953 Pencil on paper, McGill University Faculty Club stationary On verso: Portrait of Dr. Robert George

Arthur Lismer (1885-1969) Seated figures; Professor F. Howes and Professor Hebb, 1953. Pencil on paper, McGill University Faculty Club stationary On verso: Portrait of Dr. Robert George

The McGill sketches originated primarily in the Faculty Club, where Lismer stopped most days en route between the campus and his office at the museum. Many drawings are annotated by Richard Pennington, University Librarian, with whom Lismer dined regularly.

Arthur Lismer (1885-1969) Forecast of the new library terrace [1952] Pencil on paper, McGill University Faculty Club stationary

Arthur Lismer (1885-1969) Forecast of the new library terrace [1952]. Pencil on paper, McGill University Faculty Club stationary

Additional McGill sketches are held in the collections of the McGill Archives and by the Faculty Club. Caricatures drawn on the plaster walls of the Arts Building East Wing, before renovations, are also documented in the McGill Archives. Several Lismer paintings are included in the holdings of the McGill Visual Arts Collection.

Exhibition prepared by Jennifer Garland, Assistant Librarian, November 2014

On view in the Rare Books and Special Collections Reading Room until 31 January, 2014.

Lest we forget

smaller_poster-300x207Exhibition opening today, November 11, 2014: The Patriotism of Death: Propaganda posters from WWI at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Graphic Arts Centre, Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion.

Read more about our collaboration with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and about McGill Library & Archives events commemorating the centenary of the First World War here.

 

A rare edition of Voltaire

Recently, while cataloguing some volumes from the J. Patrick Lee Voltaire Collection acquired by McGill in 2013, our colleague Marc Richard discovered a very intriguing book:

“This particular edition of L’évangile de la raison was published in Year 10 of the French revolutionary calendar, a date which corresponds to either 1801 or 1802. It’s a compilation of previously published works, assembled and edited by Voltaire, and includes many works written by him. Several editions of this compilation exist; indeed, the J. Patrick Lee Collection also holds a 1765 edition of the same title.

 

The 1801 edition, however, is extremely rare. In fact, Georges Bengesco, who compiled the standard bibliography of Voltaire’s works, Voltaire: bibliographie de ses oeuvres, had not been able to locate it at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. The only mention of this edition in Bengesco’s authoritative listing is a reference to Antoine-Alexandre Barbier’s Dictionnaire des ouvrages anonymes, which provides a brief entry for it saying: ‘Réimprimé sous le titre de “L’évangile de la raison. Ouvrage posthume de M… D… V… et D… F…” Se trouve chez tous les imprimeurs et libraires, an X, in-8, XVI-224 pp.’

 

The Voltaire volumes of the Bibliothèque nationale’s Catalogue général des livres imprimés, published in 1978, do not include this edition at all, and prior to our cataloguing of this edition there was apparently no record for it in the OCLC WorldCat online database, which covers the major research libraries in North America and much of Western Europe.”

McGill’s volume confirms that this edition survives. The book is available for consultation here at RBSC, and more detailed information about it can be found in the catalogue record which Marc has prepared for it. Marc’s description makes it possible for researchers around the world to discover this copy of the volume, and our digitization team has created a full high-quality digital reproduction. The record for the physical copy can be viewed here; the full digital copy can be linked to from the e-copy record here

August 4th, 1914: Britain declares war on Germany

Canada, Newfoundland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, as dominions of the British Empire, went to war one-hundred years ago today when Britain declared war on Germany.

Memorial Windows for McGill Medical Building

P.E. Nobbs. Memorial windows for Strathcona Medical Building, 1919. Watercolour on card. John Bland Canadian Architecture Collection, McGill University.

[War] Memorial Windows for Medical Building
McGill University, Strathcona Medical Building, Montreal, QC, Canada
Educational, Memorial windows; stained glass.

Client: McGill University
Architect: Nobbs and Hyde

Description: The memorial is a handsome stained glass window of three lights placed in the main hall of the first floor, over the main entrance to the building. It was designed by Prof. P.E. Nobbs, and executed by the Bromsgrove Guild, Leeds. The memorial was a gift of the teaching staff of the faculty of medicine. Each light represents a scene recalling the service of one of the men whose memories are honored. The center one, dedicated to Lt. Col. John McCrae, shows row upon row of crosses amid blood red poppies. A jeweled plaque bears a book and quill. The left light, dedicated to Lt. Col. R.P. Campbell, shows a section of the Thiepval Front, where he was killed. The plaque bears a surgeon’s knife, scissors and bandages. The right one, dedicated to Lt. Col. H.B. Yates, shows the town of Boulogne. The plaque bears a microscope. In the center light a radiant sun is rising on the horizon, its rays spreading upward and to each side through the other lights. At the far left is a group of poplars with strings of red maple leaves entwined. At the far right is a similar group of poplars with sprigs of laurel. “Memorial to the Members of the Teaching Staff of the Faculty of Medicine who Died on Active Service,” McGill News 4 (December 1922) : 5.

 

 

 

2014 Alcuin Society Book Design Awards

By Tyler Hyde*

AwardsLogo-215x300Once again, McGill University Library is proud to be hosting the international exhibition of the winning books of the 2014 Alcuin Society Book Design Awards, on display in the McLennan Library Building lobby for the month of July.

These books have been carefully selected by the Alcuin Society as this year’s best and most beautifully produced Canadian publications. If you would like to get up close and personal with some of these books we encourage you to explore the following titles, available from the McGill Library collection:


 

howto

For the young, or young at heart, you may want to spend some time with How To and Wild Berries, which took first and third prize for children’s book design. Also don’t forget to check out honourable mention, Little You.

melanierocanIf you love art, you will love the whimsical works of Mélanie Rocan: Souvenir involontaire. This second prize winner for pictorial design is a beauty to behold. So too is honourable mention, Irene F. Whittome: Room 901, which will inspire anyone stuck in a creative rut.

seghers
Another visual delight is the second place winner for prose non-fiction illustrated, The Seghers Collection: Old Books for a New World. This book is a must see for anyone with an interest in religious studies.

If you’re in for a deeper read, check out these other non-fiction titles: Jeremiah Bancroft at Fort Beauséjour & Grand-Pré, first prize winner, and Métis in Canada and The Writing Life: Journals, 1975-2005, which tied for third prize. If you are a serious book lover, honourable mention, The Pope’s Bookbinder, should not be overlooked.

petitotSecond prize winner for fiction, Petriot, blends fact and fiction through the eyes of Marcus, a teacher in a Northern-Canadian native community, and his relationship with the writings of real life missionary, Émile Petitot. Moving from the north, experience life on the Eastern shores in the short stories that comprise Someone Somewhere, third prize winner, and honourable mention, Son of a Certain Woman.

exploringvancouverFinally, go west and learn all about the architecture of Vancouver in this aptly named book, Exploring Vancouver: the Architectural Guide, which holds the second prize in the reference category of the 2014 Alcuin Society Book Design Awards.

For more information on the Alcuin Society, and on the international circulation of this exhibition, visit www.alcuinsociety.com

Continue reading for a full, categorized list of the 2014 award winners; including links to the books on loan at McGill. Continue reading

Things we notice in summertime

Racey 24

Racey, Arthur George. “Things we notice in summertime. The danger of proposing and being accepted in a canoe.” Ink on paper. 48.7 x 36.8 cm. RBSC Racey 1:24

The RBSC print collection includes over one hundred cartoons by Quebec artist Arthur George Racey (1870-1941). After studying at McGill, Racey worked as a cartoonist for the Montreal Witness and the Montreal Star. His work was also published internationally.

Formula 1 is coming to town

If the names Fangio, Hakkinen, or (of course) Villeneuve give you goosebumps, or if the name Michael brings up only one face, you are probably keenly aware of the events this coming weekend in Montreal.

As F1 comes to town, what better time to bone up on the history of motor cars and racing? Motor racing history is not the collecting focus of McGill’s Rare Books and Special Collections, but a small number of highly illustrated books offer a feast of historical reality, and some fantasy, for the enthusiast.

Those of us who miss the battle between tire manufacturers will enjoy, for example, this reproduction in the Salon de l’Automobile of 1905 of a Michelin poster celebrating the victory of a Panhard racing car against “the fastest train in the world.”

The Michelin tire beats the train! From a poster by Ernest Montaut, 1905.

The Michelin tire beats the train! From a poster by Ernest Montaut, 1905.

And the view of the future from the 19th century? How about this art nouveau–meets batman style, proposed by the American Rubber Wheel Tire Co. in Springfield Ohio (which became the Kelly-Springfield Tire Company, later bought by Goodyear), reproduced in John Grand-Carteret’s La Voiture de demain: histoire de l’automobilisme; avec 250 figures (Paris: 1898).

The Car of the Future, from a composition by the Rubber Tire Wheel Co. in the 1890s.

The Car of the Future, from a composition by the Rubber Tire Wheel Co. in the 1890s.

To get in the mood for the weekend, or to trace the ever-changing techniques of the automobile, these are but a glimpse of what you’ll find inside some RBSC books, available for consultation in the reading room.

Recent RBSC acquisitions now on display

You are heartily invited to come and discover some new additions to RBSC’s collections.

Before new RBSC acquisitions arrive to the shelf, they pass through many hands. The last stop is almost always the desk of Raynald Lepage, who verifies that everything is as it should be, and enjoys “the privilege of seeing them all.”

In the last weeks, Raynald has selected a number of the year’s acquisitions that particularly caught his attention and that form, among themselves, some interesting intellectual or visual sub-groups. They give a taste of what has come in, and we hope they will whet your appetite to see more.

Fanny Anne Burney (Mrs. Wood), Her album of pastel sketches: manuscript. 1835.

Fanny Anne Burney (Mrs. Wood), Her album of pastel sketches: manuscript. 1835.

This pastel sketch of a coastal scene is just one of the many items on display. Made by Fanny Anne Burney (or Mrs. Wood, 1812-1860), the great-niece of eighteenth-century author Frances (Fanny) Burney (1752-1840), it adds to McGill’s strong holdings on the author and her family. For more on Frances Burney see the work of McGill’s Burney Centre.

The display in our central reading room is open during regular opening hours.