Personal Collections: Who Was Ruth Soloway?

Personal Collections is a 3-part series that explores personal art collections and asks the question: how do art collections represent their collectors?

Thanks to a generous donation by Ruth Soloway, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston, Ontario is now a destination for Canadian Art enthusiasts. A Canadian Collection: the Soloway Gift — a sample of Soloway’s art collection donated to the gallery in 2012 is on view at the gallery until April, and offers the chance to brush up on Canadian art history outside the NGC and AGO.

But what does the exhibition reveal about the woman who collected its work? The exhibition literature and reviews say little about Solloway herself, but her interest in Canadian painting is clear. In fact, the exhibition reads like a who’s-who of Canadian Art from 19th Century Romanticist, Cornelieus Krieghoff to darling of Les Automatistes, Jean Paul Riopelle. We can see a clear tendency toward Quebec artists, confirming Montreal as Paris-of-the North in 20th century art collecting, though the collection does include little oddities in Eastern and Western Canadian Art History, too. What was it about these works of art that might enchant its collectors? Color and pattern dominate, but surprisingly subdued works creep in again and again. Canonical works by Emily Carr and David Milne hang next to lesser-known artists Alfred Pellan and Jacques de Tonnancour. The result reveals a collector with her finger on the pulse of 20th century Canadian art trends, but one equally in touch with the unexpected. Take a peek:

Solloway Collection

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