Sam Weir, The Consummate Collector
Since the death of Samuel E. Weir in 1981, the collection he left behind has been interpreted and displayed with attention to the founder’s tastes, interests, and passions for fine art and history. The current exhibition extends this focus to include the range of objects collected by Weir throughout his life. His interest was caught by fine and decorative art to be sure, but also rare books, silver, medals, coins, stamps, historic documents, bird decoys, horticultural specimens, furniture and even celebrity autographs. This diversity suggests Weir is best understood as an example of what historians Paula Rubel and Abraham Rosman describe as the “unruly” collector.
The Battle of Lake Erie
The Battle of Lake Erie, one of the most significant U.S. American victories of the War of 1812-14, took place on Sept. 10 1813, off the coast of Put-In-Bay, Ohio, near Pelee Island Ontario. This exhibition features representations of the naval battle in various media, including a series documenting specific moments in the encounter by U.S. American artist Thomas Birch (1779-1851). The Birch series, from the collection of Samuel E. Weir, is accompanied by other representations of the battle on earthenware pottery, prints, watercolour, and by archival documents and other objects loaned by collector/historian Cameron Ward.
Nineteenth-Century Views of the War of 1812-14
This exhibition includes a sampling of images from the permanent collection at RiverBrink depicting events in different theatres of the war, with a special emphasis on the Battle of the Thames and the death of Shawnee Warrior Tecumseh in 1813. Collector and RiverBrink founder Sam Weir was particularly interested in this battle due to its proximity to his home town of London, Ontario. The exhibition also features artworks depicting battles in the Niagara region.
Norval Morrisseau: Journey with a Genius
Richard Baker’s collection of paintings and prints by Norval Morrisseau, on loan to RiverBrink, charts a personal and professional relationship that began when Richard was just starting his career as a lawyer. Over the years he acquired several important art works by Morrisseau and an equal number of stories about the artist’s life and work. In the process, Richard developed an interest in art and an appreciation for Morrisseau’s achievements as an innovator, an experience expressed in the title “Journey with a Genius.”
A Private Collection of Inuit Sculpture
This collection of Inuit sculpture was assembled by a local collector over many years. From an initial purchase in 1957 the collection has grown in size and scope to more than seventy pieces in soapstone, argillite, serpentine, whalebone and ivory, and a particular emphasis on Cape Dorset artists. Along with realistic depictions of humans and animals and daily life in the Arctic region, the exhibition includes a number of mythological subjects such as the Sedna figure.
Marine Art: Work, Play and Peril
Collector/historian Cameron Ward’s collection of marine paintings grew out of an interest in the British experience in India during the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. A long-time collector who began to collect British swords and medals as a teenager, Cameron has more recently come to concentrate on the art of the period 1880-1930. His collection of marine paintings developed out of this focus on a specific period and an interest in Scottish painting. In this exhibition, the sea is imaged in its historical role as a source of commerce, at various times powerful and tranquil, thrilling yet deadly. The exhibition includes paintings by noted Scottish artists Alexander Young and David James, and British artists W. S. Tomkin and Fred R. Fitzgerald.
Bloomsbury in Niagara-on-the-Lake
Joan Draper’s interest in the artists of Bloomsbury began with an initial passion for books. During yearly trips to Britain for research, the avid book collector developed contacts in the literary world in London and a significant collection of prints and drawings by the early 20th century artists associated with Bloomsbury. This private collection includes art works by Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry, and Nina Hammett, among others. (On view from May 18th to June 30th, 2013)