BMO Financial Group Donates Collection of de Grandmaison Portraits to University of Lethbridge Art Gallery

BMO Financial Group Donates Collection of de Grandmaison Portraits to 
University of Lethbridge Art Gallery 
LETHBRIDGE, ALBERTA -- (Marketwire) -- 02/22/13 -- BMO Financial
Group is donating 67 original pastel portraits by Nicholas de
Grandmaison (1892-1978) from its art collection to the University of
Lethbridge Art Gallery.  
The collection, which is valued at more than $1.6 million, spans a
period of over 30 years and traces the development of de
Grandmaison's talent and facility as one of the most important
painters and portraitists of western First Nations people in Canada. 
"The University of Lethbridge already owns one of the most
comprehensive collections of artworks and artifacts by this important
Canadian portraitist," said Robert Hayes, Senior Vice President,
Prairies Division, BMO Bank of Montreal. "We are excited to enhance
this collection with 
a gift that will allow it to continue to serve
as a resource for students, faculty and independent scholars."  
De Grandmaison created portraits of southern Albertans and Canada's
First Nations populations for over 45 years. After immigrating to
Canada from Russia (by way of England) in 1923, de Grandmaison spent
much of his life touring around the prairies, painting the people he
met. De Grandmaison was well-known and beloved in this area, and
before his death in 1978 he was made an Honourary Chief of the Peigan
Nation. 
The 67 pastel portraits are part of a portfolio of 100 works by
Nicholas de Grandmaison that were purchased by BMO in 1978 from the
artist's family after his death. 
University of Lethbridge President Mike Mahon said the portraits
gifted by BMO Financial Group are of special significance given that
de Grandmaison created most of his work in Southern Alberta,
capturing the individual histories and personalities of those he
painted. 
"I find it fascinating that the communities Nicholas de Grandmaison
was passionate about are the same communities the University remains
passionate about today," stated Mahon. "The University of Lethbridge
takes seriously what it means to be entrusted with these cultural
treasures, and we look forward to sharing these works with our
students, our community, our country and beyond in future
initiatives." 
Director/Curator of the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery
Josephine Mills said the gallery is already contemplating the many
opportunities that will arise from this gift.  
"I am excited to present an exhibition of the portraits in May and to
work on further possibilities for exhibitions and research with the
works from BMO and our existing collection of de Grandmaison artwork
and archives," said Mills. "Future projects include conducting an
oral history project about the artist and the First Nations subjects
in the portraits as well as commissioning First Nations artists to
produce new work in response to the BMO donation. This generous gift
will significantly enhance our collection, exhibitions, and public
programs and thus be an excellent resource for our community." 
Included in the gift is $50,000 to care for and create access to the
works. Mills says an oral history project that focuses on the artist
and sitters will be created and that the Gallery will commission
Aboriginal artists to create a response to the works. The money will
also be used to showcase the works nationally and possibly
internationally. 
The University of Lethbridge Art Gallery houses one of the most
significant art collections in Canada. Numbering over 14,000 objects,
the holdings include works from Canada, America and Europe, span the
19th and 20th centuries and continue to grow with 21st century
additions. The gallery's major strength is the diversity of the
collection, which not only represents a wide range of geographic
locations, but also the full spectrum of media, artistic movements
and genres.  
Pieces of BMO Financial Group's gift are on display in the University
of Lethbridge Gallery and will be accessible at this evening's Donor
Gala. The University of Lethbridge Art Gallery has scheduled an
exhibition of selected works from the BMO gift from May 2 to June 27,
2013. 
About the Gift 
These drawings are high quality, original artworks that are
indicative of Nicholas de Grandmaison's practice of depicting the
First Nations peoples of the Canadian prairies. These works are of
outstanding significance in their relationship to other pieces in the
University of Lethbridge Art Collection created by de Grandmaison, as
the University has become recognized as the foremost archive of de
Grandmaison's work and personal notes, sketchbooks, papers and
photographs. 
De Grandmaison's art practice consisted primarily of portraits of
Southern Alberta citizens. Some were commissioned; others were more
spontaneous, on the spot drawings of friends or acquaintances. De
Grandmaison is especially known for his mastery of the pastel medium.
Many of his drawings have a gestural, unfinished quality, while also
capturing the warmth in the sitters' eyes, or particular aspects of
their personalities. The 67 works included in this gift are of no
exception: though the sitters are no longer alive, the viewer gets a
sense of their personalities and individual histories when presented
with de Grandmaison's careful colour selections, precise compositions
and gentle lines.  
This gift of 67 works from BMO Financial Group joins over 170
drawings, paintings and personal archival items (most of which have
been previously deemed to be of outstanding significance and national
importance) currently housed by the University of Lethbridge Art
Collection and Archives.  
About the Artist 
Nicholas De Grandmaison created portraits of Southern Albertans and
Canada's First Nations populations for over 45 years. After
immigrating to Canada from Russia (by way of England) in 1923, de
Grandmaison spent much of his life touring around the prairies,
painting the people he met. De Grandmaison was well known and beloved
in this area, and before his death in 1978 he was made an Honourary
Chief of the Peigan Nation. His prolific practice stands today as a
document of 20th century life on the prairies, and the convergence of
two cultures. De Grandmaison's work, including the 67 works in this
gift, are of outstanding cultural significance at regional, national
and international levels as excellent representations of the lives of
Canadians from a variety of cultural backgrounds. 
The U of L's De Grandmaison Collection 
In addition to this gift, the art collection of the University of
Lethbridge holds over 170 of de Grandmaison's artworks and archival
items, primarily pastel drawings that were created between 1925 and
1970. As the single largest holding of de Grandmaison's work in a
public collection, the University of Lethbridge has the
responsibility of being as complete an archive as possible for the
local, regional and national cultural communities. Because the
University of Lethbridge Art Collection is used as an educational
resource available to students, faculty and visiting artists, the
acquisition of many works by a single artist is extremely important
to illustrate the progressive shifts that occur over the duration of
a professional artistic practice. De Grandmaison's personal history
with Southern Alberta furthers the importance of this gift as a
testament to the artistic legacy of the region. 
About the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery 
The U of L Art Gallery houses one of the most significant art
collections in Canada. Numbering over 14,000 objects, the holdings
include works from Canada, America, and Europe, span the 19th and
20th centuries and continue to grow with 21st century additions. The
gallery's major strength is the diversity of the collection, which
not only represents a wide range of geographic locations, but also
the full spectrum of media, artistic movements, and genres. The U of
L Art Gallery embraces its role as a major collecting institution and
strives to: increase public access to works in the collection through
exhibitions, publications, and its web page; foster research on the
artists and their works in the collection; and support inquiry into
the concepts involved with collecting in a contemporary context. 
About BMO Financial Group 
Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a
highly-diversified North American financial services organization.
With total assets of $525 billion as at October 31, 2012, and more
than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of
personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment
banking products and solutions. For more than 194 years, BMO
Financial Group has believed in community reinvestment and corporate
and social responsibility in the communities it serves. In 2011, BMO
contributed more than $66.4 million in donations, sponsorships and
events in Canada and the United States to groups, organizations and
programs that help build and sustain resilient, vital and healthy
communities. 
Contacts:
Media Contacts
BMO Financial Group
Krysta Cooke
(416) 867-3996
krysta.cooke@bmo.com 
University of Lethbridge
Richard Westlund
(403) 332-5251
richard.westlund@uleth.ca
 
 
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