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Gatineau, Quebec, March 22, 2013 – Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is announcing the opening of its travelling exhibition I Know You by Heart: Portrait Miniatures, at the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon.
“Original travelling exhibitions like I Know You by Heart illustrate LAC’s commitment to making the country’s documentary heritage accessible to all Canadians, wherever they live,” said Daniel J. Caron, Deputy Head and Librarian and Archivist of Canada.
I Know You by Heart features 35 miniatures from LAC’s collection, an oil painting loaned by the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, and a five-minute bilingual video. The exhibition showcases portraits with fascinating stories, notably that of Alice Walker, the portrait around which LAC built the branding for the exhibition, and of Demasduit, the only known portrait of a Beothuk person created from life.
The portrait of Alice Walker is the only known miniature created by her father, Canadian artist Horatio Walker. He painted it for his wife Jeannette, following the death of their daughter from diphtheria at the age of nine. The leather carrying case shows visible signs of wear, as though it had been opened almost daily by one or both of her parents.
The portrait of Demasduit was painted by Lady Hamilton, the wife of then Governor Sir Charles Hamilton. In March 1819, ongoing clashes between European fishermen and the Beothuk resulted in the capture of Demasduit, who was painted while she was being held prisoner.
“We are excited to present this exceptional collection of portrait miniatures from Library and Archives Canada,” said Troy Gronsdahl, Associate Curator of the Mendel Art Gallery. “The exhibition speaks to the enduring appeal of the portrait genre and the ability of objects to evoke memory and stir the imagination. These works provide historical context for the gallery’s own collection of portrait miniatures by distinguished watercolourist Hilda Stewart.”
“Portrait miniatures hold a special place of interest within the genre of portraiture. Portable and private, these treasured pieces were worn as jewellery, tucked inside a pocket, or kept in the home in a special place for daily viewing and remembrance,” added Mr. Caron.
There are over 100 portrait miniatures in LAC’s holdings, ranging from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century. Our modern-day miniature keepsakes are the pictures we keep on the screens of our portable devices—evidence that we still need to keep the people we care for close by when we are parted.
“Exhibitions such as I Know You By Heart are a testament to the value of collecting, preserving, and interpreting works of visual culture, and the importance of collaborating with our sister institutions,” Gronsdahl said.
I Know You by Heart: Portrait Miniatures opens March 22, 2013 at the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatchewan and runs until June 2, 2013.
About Library and Archives Canada
The mandate of Library and Archives Canada is to preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations, and to be a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, thereby contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada. Library and Archives Canada also facilitates co-operation among communities involved in the acquisition, preservation and diffusion of knowledge, and serves as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.
About the Mendel Art Gallery
The Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon’s civic gallery, has been a premier destination for contemporary and historical art since 1964. Visitors can explore dynamic exhibitions, participate in related programs, browse in the Gallery Shop, and enjoy the oasis of the Civic Conservatory. The Mendel
is open daily; admission is free.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Chief, Media Relations
Library and Archives Canada
Mendel Art Gallery