Photo of Installation view - Leonard Rotunda

Installation view, Reuben Wells Leonard Rotunda, November 2020. Works shown: left: Kent Monkman, The Academy, 2008 © Kent Monkman; center: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, The Crucified Christ (Corpus), c. 1650 ; right: Norval Morrisseau, Self Portrait Devoured by Demons, 1964 © Estate of Norval Morrisseau. Photo © AGO

European Art on First Nations Land


Admission is always FREE for AGO Members, AGO Annual Pass Holders & Visitors 25 and under. Learn more.

Located in the Leonard Rotunda on Level 1.


This exhibition welcomes visitors into the European galleries with an important question that we are currently asking: How can we admire objects of tremendous beauty and acknowledge the ugly, violent systems that produced them? Drawing upon the AGO’s collection of European and Indigenous art, as well as our archives, European Art on First Nations Land invites visitors to consider the role European Art plays in the history of colonization and the making of Canada. 

From the 1400s onward, many European nations built vast empires using the labour of enslaved peoples and exploiting the resources of colonized lands. The profits from these enterprises financed art for the wealthy and powerful across Europe. When settlers brought art to this land, they imported their beauty standards, values, and narratives. 

Paintings and sculpture made in Europe in the 1600s and 1700s hang with paintings by indigenous artists Norval Morrisseau and Kent Monkman. One rarely seen highlight is an architectural drawing presented for the AGO’s premises in the 1910s. Together, these works show the AGO’s past and present, with a look towards its future.


The Academy

Kent Monkman. The Academy, 2008. Acrylic on canvas, Framed: 205.7 x 297.2 cm. Art Gallery of Ontario. Purchased with the assistance of the David Yuile and Mary Elizabeth Hodgson Fund, 2008. © Kent Monkman 2008/114

European Art on First Nations Land slide
Zeuxis choosing his models, oil painting

Nicolas André Monsiaux, Zeuxis choosing his models, 1797. Oil on canvas, Overall: 96 x 129 cm. Gift from the Volunteer Committee Fund, 1988. 88/100. © Art Gallery of Ontario.

European Art on First Nations Land slide
Drawing; Art Museum of Toronto: Sculpture Courts and Galleries

Samuel Herbert Maw, Darling and Pearson (firm), active 1895–1937. Drawing; Art Museum of Toronto: Sculpture Courts and Galleries, 1914. Watercolour on paper, Sheet: 56 x 82 cm. AGO Archives. LA.A.138846.

European Art on First Nations Land
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