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Vision into Reality: The Asian Collection Begins

August 14, 2009 - August 14, 2009

Colin Graham, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria?s Founding Director, had remarkable insight in starting the Asian art collection, now one of the most important in Canada.  Among the very first works of art accepted into the Gallery?s collection in 1950 were two Japanese woodblock prints by the well-known artist, Utamaro (1753-1806).  These were given by important early benefactor, Miss Katherine McEwen.  Following her lead, Miss Kathleen Agnew and Mrs. Massy Goolden generously supplied funds to purchase early Chinese ceramics and bronzes as well as Japanese lacquerware.  

In the summer of 1960 the collection got its first major boost.  Colin Graham met Mrs. Isabel Pollard of San Francisco and was able to persuade her to begin collecting Asian art for the Gallery.  With astute Japanese antique dealer, Bunzo Nakanishi, and well-known Japanese scholar, Dr. Toru Mori, she built an extraordinary collection of nearly 1,000 works, mostly Japanese. In the 1970s, a retired Graham encouraged donation of works from esteemed collectors Mr. and Mrs. R.W. Finalyson & Family of Toronto and Brian S. McElney of Hong Kong. Their support of the Gallery is ongoing.  Colin Graham also remains an enthusiast, having created a home at the AGGV for what is now a world renowned Asian art collection.

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