Today, the National Gallery of Canada houses an extensive collection of North European art from the 16th and 17th centuries.
In one of the largest private art donations in Canadian history, Montreal physicians Jonathan Meakins and Jacqueline McClaran donated 258 prints, engravings and woodcuts to the Ottawa Gallery, including works by Rembrandt, Brueghel and DÃ¼rer.
Meakins and McClaran are ardent art collectors who, over four decades, have carefully assembled a treasure trove of Flemish and Dutch drawings and prints while pursuing a distinguished career in medicine.
They said they caught the collection virus after visiting an exhibition of prints by Camille Pissarro at the Grand Palais des Champs-ÃlysÃ©es in Paris, and painstakingly acquired what would become the largest private collection of prints in Europe in the North in Canada.
âIt’s a creative act, just like doing an experiment with cells, and that was the driving force,â Meakins said.
WATCH | Montreal couple donate more than 200 works of art to the Museum of Fine Arts
“Delicious” is a word he uses to describe his delight with the glimpses that art offers into everyday life in the Flemish plains, including realistic renderings of daily farming chores and rural landscapes, as well as more depictions. whimsical festivities and lively village tours. to the charlatans of yesteryear.
They emphasized the meticulous attention to detail and the skill revealed in the prints.
During the pandemic, the couple removed their cherished works of art from the bedroom and living room walls of their Montreal home and shipped them to the Museum of Fine Arts so they could be accessible to all Canadians.
The display, called The Cosmos for collectors. The Meakins-McClaran Prints Collection, is available until November 14.
âThe gift is truly amazing,â said exhibition curator Erika Dolphin. “That makes [the gallery’s holdings of Flemish and Dutch prints] the largest and most complete in Canada.
The couple said giving the artwork to Canadians and seeing it displayed on the gallery walls filled them with joy and pride.
“How exciting can life be? Meakins said. “I mean, I’m 80 and this is a peak.”
âSecond after the wedding,â McClaran interjected.