The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is the repository of one of the most important graphic arts collections in Canada, encompassing prints, drawings and photographs that survey over five centuries of graphic achievement and include masterpieces by a broad diversity of artists spanning the history of European and North American art.
Contemporary works constitute the main part of the Museum’s photographic collection, which comprises over 2,500 photos from Canada, the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia. In recent years, the Museum’s collection has been considerable enlarged by numerous documentary works executed by Quebec photographers.
As the Museum had focussed on acquiring works that documented the majorstages of the medium’s development, the photographic collection will soon benefit by additional exhibition space.
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The collection includes works by such renowned figures as Callot, Claude, Daumier, Delacroix, Dürer, Fragonard, Goya, Hogarth, Manet, Pissarro, Raimondi, Redon, Rembrandt, Titian, Toulouse-Lautrec, Schongauer and Watteau, as well major works by the leading artists of the French, German, Swiss, English and American schools of the twentieth century. The collection also includes French and Persian illuminated manuscripts.
The history of Quebec and Canadian art (including Aboriginal art) is richly represented in pieces from the eighteenth century to the contemporary period, including a fine and distinguished selection of graphic works by Riopelle. This breadth and depth are manifest in the approximate numbers of works on paper: 4,000 prints and drawings of non-Canadian art before 1945; 1,000 non-Canadian prints and drawings after 1945; 3,000 Canadian prints and drawings before 1945; 4,000 Canadian prints and drawings after 1945; and nearly 2,500 photographs based on series produced in the 1970s and 1980s, a period regarded as a turning point in the history of photography in Quebec. These acquisitions testify to an era of great social change.