Published: December 20, 2015
OTTAWA, CANADA — The National Gallery of Canada Foundation and the National Gallery of Canada announced a donation of 50 paintings by Canadian artist, James Wilson Morrice (1865–1924) from the A.K. Prakash Foundation. Assembled over four decades by Toronto art patron and scholar, Ash K. Prakash, the donation is in honor of the 150th anniversary of the artist’s birth.
In recognition of this donation valued in excess of $20 million, one of the gallery’s Canadian art exhibition rooms will be named the Ash K. Prakash Gallery for 25 years.
James Wilson Morrice (1865–1924) is among the most influential Canadian painters of the late Nineteenth–early Twentieth Centuries. He remains Canada’s leading proponent of post-impressionism to this day. Living in France from 1890, Morrice focused on scenes of modern life, vividly depicting the streets, markets, cafés and parks of Paris.
His seascapes from Brittany and Normandy — together with scenes of Italy, North Africa and the West Indies — demonstrate his sensitive use of color. Highlights from the A.K. Prakash Collection include “The Pink House, Montreal,” circa 1905–1908; “Le jardin du Luxembourg, Paris,” 1905–1908; “Havre,” 1909; and “Canal in Venice,” circa 1898-1900, which are among the masterpieces of his career.
The collection was the most significant remaining private collection of J.W. Morrice’s works. This donation considerably strengthens the National Gallery of Canada’s holdings of work by the artist, which has long been the single largest collection of paintings by Morrice. In 1909, the gallery was the first public collection in Canada to acquire the artist’s work. His representation in the collection was later expanded through key purchases and gifts from private collections, including the Blair Laing collection gift from 1989.
Ash K. Prakash is a noted Canadian art collector and author of Impressionism in Canada: A Journey of Rediscovery, 2014. “The collection represents a governing force of my life’s work. It is my gift to Canada donated in the hope that Morrice will inspire and enrich the lives of my fellow citizens and help remind us that Canadian art stands with the best in the world.” Prakash is a Distinguished Patron of the Gallery and serves as a Director on the Board of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation.
“This gift to the National Gallery is extraordinary, not only for the number and the rarity of these works, but for the tremendous capacity it provides us for comprehensive research and programming around James Wilson Morrice, a key figure for Canadian art” stated NGC Director Marc Mayer. “As a Canadian, I am deeply grateful to Mr Prakash for his profound generosity to our country’s national collection.”
“We are very pleased to inaugurate the Ash K. Prakash Gallery, within our museum. This new gallery naming recognizes an extraordinary gift by an individual who is a leading art scholar and historian, a proud Canadian and a friend,” said Michael J. Tims, Chair of the National Gallery of Canada’s Board of Trustees.
In April 2017, the Canadian national collection galleries at the National Gallery of Canada will be re-launched to the public on the occasion of the sesquicentennial celebration of Canadian Confederation. The A.K. Prakash Collection: J.W. Morrice will be featured in the reinstallation and a special exhibition devoted to it is planned for 2017. A major retrospective on J. W. Morrice, drawing from other major Canadian public and private collections is also planned for 2019, and will include an international tour.
“Ash Prakash’s knowledge and love of Canadian art is legendary” says Thomas d’Aquino, Chairman of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation, “As a collector, author, connoisseur and advocate, he is tireless in reminding Canadians of our unique history and tradition in the visual arts. His generous gift of 50 paintings by James Wilson Morrice is testament to his deep attachment to the National Gallery of Canada. We at the National Gallery of Canada Foundation thank and salute Ash Prakash, our friend and colleague, fellow Director and Distinguished Patron. His philanthropy has enriched the Gallery and the nation.”
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