FROM GROWING PAINS TO GAINSBOROUGH
Gallery management is condemned as “slip-shod” by the president of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, sparking a chain of events that leads to the government’s creation of an Advisory Arts Council. The council secures the purchase of Thomas Gainsborough’s Ignatius Sancho, the collection’s first work by an old master.
The newly-elected president of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, George Reid, finds the management of the Gallery to be “slip-shod,” and the custodian and acting curator, Walter R. Billings, to be without authority in administering the collection. Reid acts with dispatch, arranging for a meeting of the Academy and drafting a memo to the governor-general, Lord Grey, pressing “the view of importance and usefulness of an energetically-administered National Gallery.”
George Reid’s actions in 1906 have significant results. In 1907, in an effort to consolidate all government patronage, including the administration of the National Gallery of Canada, the government of Sir Wilfred Laurier establishes the Advisory Arts Council.
The Council is composed of “gentlemen who have shown their interest in an appreciation and understanding of art,” and include Sir George Drummond, Sir Edmund Walker and Senator Arthur Boyce. The Council is granted an initial budget of $10,000 and charged with advising and assisting the government on purchases of art, sculpture and construction of public monuments.
For the first time, works of art are purchased on a regular basis. The Gallery acquires its first work by an old master – Thomas Gainsborough’s Ignatius Sancho.