Back at my alma mater in Toronto
Stephen Borys, Director & CEO, exhibition curator
The University of Toronto Art Centre had not yet opened in University College when I was a graduate student at the university, and the art collections were spread out across the campus including in the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at Hart House. Today the UTAC is home to three of the university’s permanent collections including the renowned Lillian Malcove Collection.
UTAC director Niamh O’Laighaire offered to assemble a list of paintings and sculptures for the 100 Masters exhibition that would feature works from all three University of Toronto collections. We began with several medieval works, first viewing the beautiful panel painting Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder from the Malcove Collection. The painting was on display in an elegantly furnished gallery devoted to the medieval collection of paintings, sculptures, and objects made up largely from the Malcove gift. The Cranach painting, one of the finest in Canada, was on both of our lists.
I also welcomed Niamh’s suggestion of William Pars’s Portrait of Three Friends, featuring a young John Graves Simcoe, later General and Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, who was responsible for the founding of York (Toronto). During my student days, the painting was installed in Simcoe Hall in the Office of the President. Looking at two paintings by the British artist, Edward Burne-Jones, I chose the Portrait of Caroline Fitzgerald, which has a Toronto connection, the sitter’s father having studied at Upper Canada College and later practiced law in the city.
Sir Edward Burne-Jones, British, 1833–1898, Portrait of Caroline Fitzgerald, 1884. Oil on canvas, 82.9 x 52.1 cm. Gift of Mrs. Augustine Fitzgerald, 1932; University of Toronto Collection; 1999-005. Lent by: University of Toronto Art Centre, Toronto