Wednesday, June 05, 2013

bonus features: one hundred years of art at the grange

This post offers supplementary material for a recent Torontoist article, which you should read first before diving into this post.
Goldwin Smith with dog in front of the Grange, 1905. Image courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ontario.
A slice of life photograph at the Grange in the years between the house was willed to the Art Museum of Toronto (as the AGO was originally known) by Harriette Boulton Smith in 1902 and the opening of its first onsite exhibition 100 years ago today.

As for the man in the photo, here's a sketch John Lownsbrough wrote for his history of the home, The Privileged Few (Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, 1980):

From outward appearances, Harriette chose as her second husband a man quite dissimilar from her first. William Boulton had been outgoing, somewhat brash, essentially non-intellectual. Goldwin Smith, on the other hand, possessed qualities that stamped him aloof and austere. He was also avowedly cerebral. It is entirely possible that outward appearances magnified actual differences between the two men. Then again, it is possible they did not. In any event, a library soon replaced the grapery that had been added to the west wing of the Grange. From here, Goldwin Smith would devote himself to turning out reams of opinion on crucial concerns of the day. Not least among the subjects which attracted his attention was the political and social development of his adopted country. As a transplanted Englishman of strong liberal bias, suddenly relocated at the very epicentre of Tory Toronto, Smith perceived only too readily the deficiencies of the new Confederation. The remnants of a colonial heritage appeared to belie the proclaimed nationhood and gave offence to his philosopher's sense of neatness. As much as the citizens of Toronto enjoyed basking in reflected glory while world notables in politics and letters came to pay their respects to the Sage of The Grange, not a few took umbrage at his suggestion that Canada's destiny lay in continental union with the United States.

Source: the Globe, June 6, 1913.
Newspaper coverage of the opening of the Grange as an art gallery was good, if repetitive, among the city's dailies. Unless it was mentioned in a late edition that wasn't microfilmed, the Mail and Empire was the only paper to ignore the event. Editorials ran the day after the exhibition began in the Globe (above) and the World (below).

The St. Patrick Street mentioned in the Globe editorial is present-day Dundas Street, as is Anderson Street.  Both were among the many small streets stitched together to extend Dundas east from Ossington a few years after the gallery opened (originally Dundas followed Ossington south to Queen Street). Both Lownsbrough and AGO Historic Site Coordinator Jenny Rieger (who was interviewed for the Torontoist article) can't find any good reasons why Harriette Boulton Smith sold the land adjoining the Grange along St. Patrick Street, given that she and Goldwin Smith were already wealthy, and that they would gain new, close neighbours.

Editorial, the World, June 6, 1913.

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