Collection celebrates newly-acquired historical works enriching the Province’s collection

Wilkinson [Robert D. Wilkie], View of Halifax, Nova Scotia, from Dartmouth, c 1850s, oil on canvas, 36.8 x 56.4 cm.
Collection of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Purchase made possible by funds provided by John Risley, 2015. 2015.91


Halifax, September 22, 2016— On April 1, 2015 the renowned Winkworth Collection of historic Canadiana was auctioned by Christie’s in London. Livestreamed and viewed by curatorial staff at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the auction was an exhilarating start of an exciting process that would see some of these works make their way back to the Province of Nova Scotia’s Permanent Collection, and result in an important exhibition of historical works. Produced by the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Museum (NSM), and curated by Shannon Parker, Martin Hubley, Roger Lewis, and Roger Marsters, Return to Nova Scotia opened with a special evening celebration on Wednesday, September 21.

Educated in Canada and England, Peter Winkworth came from a family of collectors. His own collecting interests were triggered in the 1940s when his uncle sold him a set of Canadian works, sparking a lifelong love of historic Canadian artwork. During the course of his lifetime, he amassed what would arguably become the most extensive private collection of Canadiana ever assembled. “Peter Winkworth’s collection was the last and perhaps finest of the encyclopedic visual archives of Canada’s past compiled by Canadaphilic Britons and Anglophilic Canadians during the twentieth century,” said Roger Marsters, Curator of Marine History at the NSM.

A substantial portion of Winkworth's collection was acquired by the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) in 2002 (over 4,000 items) and an additional 1,200 works were purchased by the LAC, the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of Civilization (now the Canadian Museum of History) following his death in 2005. These two acquisitions are described as, “a treasure of paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, maps and other documents of incomparable beauty and breadth, depicting landscapes in every part of Canada and scenes of almost every aspect of life in Canada over four centuries”.

The Christie’s auction consisted of the balance of Winkworth’s collection following the death of his widow. These were the pieces – a few hundred paintings, watercolours, drawings, and prints - that were displayed in the family home. And while a much smaller offering than what had previously been acquired, there were many gems – as the avid bidding and the final prices throughout the auction can attest.

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Museum collaborated closely to create a list of the most important pieces they would like to add to the Province’s collections. With the tremendous support of John Risley, John Bragg, Sir Christopher Ondaatje, John Oyler, the Nova Scotia Museum’s Board of Governors, the Canadian Maritime Heritage Foundation and a Movable Cultural Property grant accorded by the Department of Canadian Heritage under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, the Province of Nova Scotia’s collections are now significantly richer.

“This acquisition is the result of the cooperation between the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and the NSM, and the generous support of the Canadian Maritime Heritage Foundation, private donations from gallery and museum patrons, and support from the NSM Board of Governors,” shared Laura Bennett, Manager of Collections at the NSM. “This support is a testament to the importance of this collection, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to share these important works with all Nova Scotians.”

Shannon Parker, Curator of Collections at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, underscored the collection’s incredible benefits and importance to the province: “The artworks on view in this special exhibition exemplify the richly diverse and complex story of Nova Scotia,” she explained. “Their return to the province illustrates what happens when curators passionate about the heritage and culture of Nova Scotia collaborate with equally avid private, provincial, and federal partners: the benefits are both immediate and far-reaching.”

Return to Nova Scotia is the first—and perhaps the only-- time all of these works will be displayed together before they are returned to each of the museums for their own programming, and offers an excellent opportunity to see the works that have created so much excitement within the Atlantic region and beyond. The opening was held on Wednesday, September 21 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Gallery in the presence of the Honourable Tony Ince, Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage, as well as Gallery and NSM partners, donors and supporters.

Return to Nova Scotia is on view at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax until February 20, 2017.



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Camille Dubois Crôteau
Communications and Marketing Officer
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

(902) 424-2903 Cell: (902) 497-6006

Laura Bennett
Manager of Collections
Nova Scotia Museum

(902) 424-6453

About the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is Atlantic Canada’s largest arts museum. With locations in downtown Halifax and downtown Yarmouth, it houses the province’s art collection and offers a range of innovative exhibitions and programming.

About the Nova Scotia Museum
The Nova Scotia Museum is responsible for the provincial collection of over one million artifacts and specimens. As well, it oversees the maintenance of more than 210 buildings, four floating vessels and nine locomotives.