The European Collection


Comprised of painting and sculpture made in Europe between 1000 and 1900, the AGO’s European collection contains highlights from the Middle Ages to the Italian Renaissance and beyond.

Sculpture is a collection strength, with the Ken Thomson Collection of European Art representing the richest grouping of small scale sculpture in North America. Including a remarkable collection of ivory works made in France between 1200 and the 1400s, these pieces provide a glimpse into medieval artistic communities and production methods.

Italian art from the 1300s is another highlight, with works by Nino Pisano and Giovanni del Biondo. A strong grouping of Northern Renaissance painting and sculpture, including the largest collection of devotional boxwood carvings in the world, sheds light onto artistic practices in the Netherlands during the 1500s.

The 1600s in Italy are well represented in the collection, which houses two of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s major sculptures: the Corpus and a portrait bust of Pope Gregory XV. The Margaret and Ian Ross collection of bronze sculpture and medals supports the Italian Baroque holdings and is one of the most significant bronze collections in North America. Other strengths include Rembrandt’s Lady with the Lap Dog and Hals’ Isaak Massa, Dutch paintings produced in the 1600s.

From the 1700s, the AGO houses Chardin’s Jar of Apricots, Gainsborough’s The Harvest Wagon and Pio’s sculpture of St. Jerome, donated by the family of Murray Frum to the European sculpture collection. Auguste Rodin’s sculpture is another highlight, as seen through the large-scale sculpture of Adam and the marble sculpture of Eve. Also produced in the 1800s, the AGO’s Impressionist and academic French painting is a collection strength, highlighted through works by Degas, Tissot, Gaugin, and Monet.

Highlights from the European Collection


E.P. Taylor Library & Archives

The E.P. Taylor Library & Archives is open to the public Tuesday to Saturday. Access to the Archives and Special Collections is by appointment. Book collections are searchable through our online catalogue. Special collections holdings may be browsed online using our alphabetical list.

Marvin Gelber Print & Drawing Study Centre

This state-of-the-art facility is open to the pubic and dedicated to the study of prints, drawings and photographs. It houses a collection of over 70,000 works which date from the 13th century to the present day. Find out more about the AGO's prints and drawings collection.

Image Licensing

Find the image you need from the Art Gallery of Ontario, one of the most distinguished art museums in North America. AGO Images licenses to scholarly and commercial clients worldwide. Be inspired by Tom Thomson, James Tissot, Kennth Noland, Walter Trier and many more amazing artists.

Conservation at the AGO

Conservation is the care and protection of cultural objects. As the caretakers of collections, conservators examine, research, clean and repair artworks, while also taking action to prevent future deterioration. Here at the AGO, the Conservation Team includes conservators, mat makers, framers and mount makers. These specialists work together to ensure each work will look its best not only for today, but also for generations to come.

Provenance Research Project

The AGO is committed to investigating the provenance of works in its permanent collection, particularly as it pertains the ownership history of European painting and sculpture during the 1933–45 period. The purpose of this is to increase awareness and understanding of the spoliation of works of art by the Nazis and others.

The AGO's Deaccessioning Policy

The Art Gallery of Ontario cares for its collections according to the highest standards. Its resources should only be devoted to works of art that serve its mission and are worthy of such care. This occasionally demands that works be judiciously and carefully deaccessioned from the collections. The proceeds from this are reinvested in new works of art.

Artefacts Canada

Thanks to the important contribution of this country's heritage institutions, the Artefacts Canada database contains close to 4 million object records and approximately 800,000 images from Canadian museums.


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