When I wrote the foregoing in 1991, I was trying to recapture a past that had a good deal receded. Rereading it now, I realize how young we still were during that first trip, and how focused she must have been on our discovery of Europe together, rather than on making some kind of professional art-pilgrimage.
Let me amplify what I said here about her art likings with some notes that I made last year (2000) after cataloguing the three-hundred-odd art books and catalogues in our sunroom:
The books on Surrealism, the Symbolist Movement, and what I have loosely called the Fantastic were almost all bought by me. A number of other books come from Aileen Meagher’s estate. We bought some books when we were in Europe together, and Carol bought catalogues for various shows she went to. From time to time I bought books in Halifax that I thought she might like.
Carol wasn’t a compulsive collector. Books were for use, and though there some major books there, such as Rewald’s Impressionism and Post-Impression, I suspect that she often got pretty much what she wanted from small ones, like those that I have classed as “Studio,” which migrated with her from her studio in Queen Street, or even, in a few instance, Minneapolis, or from journals like Art News and Art in America, to which she subscribed for a number of years.
She bought lots of art cards, and kept them in one of her desk drawers, along with ones sent her by friends. Some particular favourites went up in the kitchen and bathroom.
Pondering her card collection might provide better guidance to her own tastes than comes from the books, a number of which are there more or less accidentally, being gifts or having connections with individuals known to her.
The most common denominator among the books is drawing, a fact that I have somewhat obscured by listing the books of drawings by individual artists under the names of the artists. She herself shelved books of paintings, drawings, and prints separately.
Having mentioned the cards in her desk drawer, I’ve now been moved to go through them. She herself had arranged most of them in groups.
Ignoring duplicates, I see (approximately) : Magritte 14, Rousseau 10, Bonnard and Munch 7, Chagall and Cezanne 6, Nolde and Palmer 5.
Also Flemish (including Brueghel and Bosch), about 15, and Italian Quattrocento (Bellini, Uccello, Paolo, Piero de Cosimo, Piero della Francesca) about 15.
Also a card or two (or three, in the case of Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Friedrich) by other artists, principally Blake, Hokusai, O’Keefe, Hopper, Kokoschka, Ernst, Constable, Böcklin, Géricault, and a Hudson River landscapist or two.
For some reason there are also nine by Sisley and seven by Nova Scotia’s Roger Savage (beach pieces). Oh, and for Van Gogh, about sixty-five. I think she was mostly buying images of his that weren’t in her books.
With few exceptions, she did our card-buying, not me. On the other hand, I bought the reproductions of Bellini, Bosch, and Rousseau downstairs in the sewing room. and the Rousseau and, I think, the Campin in my study. Which of us bought the Delacroix tiger and cubs in the dining-room? I can’t remember.
As to the cards in the kitchen:
On the side of the refrigerator there are two Ernsts, two Miros and two Bonnards, and one each by Chirico, Bosch, Ensor, Hartmann, Pisanello, and Redon.
In the space over the sink she put three medieval scenes of rural activity, Giorgione’s Il Tempesta, a Cranach Adam and Eve, a Northern Renaissance (?) saint or hermit in a landscape, a Northern Renaissance (?) Madonna and Child in a landscape, a portrait of a woman by, I think, Pollaiuolo, and a painting of two monks and a tree, one of them (St. Francis?) feeding birds; plus four Dutch flower paintings higher up.
On the pencil- sharpener wall are five of Dürer’s nature studies—a beetle, a hawk, two squirrels, an owl, and a rabbit—plus a Bosch owl, a Japanese Zen-type drawing of an owl, and two Chinese paintings of cats.
Oh, and beside the sun-room door are five flower pieces, a couple of them by Redon and Rousseau and another probably by Manet.
And upstairs, beside the bathroom mirror, there is a Brueghel landscape and a romantic 19th-century American scene of buffaloes crossing a pool at sunset. The landscape that fell off was probably a Corot.
The two lovely Italian Primitives, saints in a landscape, were put up by her, of course; also the Van Gogh field with cypresses from St. Rémy.
There are also several hundred art slides that she bought or made herself for her lectures, and piles of art journals, including Art News, ArtsAtlantic, and Art in America.
Postcards under plastic over the kitchen sink.