Charles Fraser Comfort fonds [multiple media]
Record Information – Brief
Charles Fraser Comfort fonds [multiple media]
- Hierarchical level:
- R5724-0-X-E, MG30-D81
- Type of material:
- Textual material, Photographs, Art, Stamps and stamp products, Architectural and technical drawings, Maps and cartographic material, Sound recordings, Objects (including medals and pins)
- Found in:
- Archives / Collections and Fonds
- Item ID number:
- Context of this record:
Record Information – Details
- Fonds includes:
661 lower level description(s)View lower level description(s)
- Place of creation:
11.71 m of textual records.
26 audio reels (ca. 20 h).
8 audio cassettes (ca. 8 h).
43,262 photographs: b&w and colour prints; b&w and colour negatives.
5 paintings: oil.
394 drawings: pen and ink, pencil.
1 album (39 drawings, 2 photographs).
23 reproductions: photo-mechanical process prints; photographs.
1 grangerized volume (8 drawings, 6 photographs, and 2 reproductions).
15 posters: offset lithographs.
6 postal covers.
10 architectural drawings.
18 maps: published maps.
- Language of material:
- Scope and content:
Fonds consists of the papers of Charles Comfort including the following series: Diaries, Travel Journals and Notebooks; Financial and Miscellaneous Records; Commissions; Correspondence; Correspondence - Additional Material; Manuscripts; Subject Files: War Art; Subject Files: National Gallery of Canada; Subject Files: Associations and Institutions; Subject Files: Teaching; Subject Files: General; Reference Cards; Clippings and Scrapbooks; Exhibition Catalogues; Publications; Family Papers; Comfort Inventory of Paintings; Charles and Louise Comfort Correspondence; Memorabilia. Includes microfilm of diaries, 1943-1945, describing Dr. Comfort's work, travels, associates and the events of the war, microfilm reel M-825. Fonds also contains 158 drawings, ten watercolours, six prints, four autographs, three photo-mechancal process reproductions, n.d., 1908-1955, consist of artworks by Charles Comfort, including designs for murals, currency, furniture and heraldic items, etc., miscellaneous sketches, an early sketchbook of flowers (1908-1909) and Christmas cards; and works by others: a portrait sketch of Charles Comfort, sketches of the 1945 Academy dinner in Montreal, an illustrated letter and envelope sent to Charles Comfort, 1955, an illuminated certificate presented to Comfort, 1938, and one print on fabric entitled "The Boar's Head Carol" from the Arts and Letters Club's 1953 Christmas dinner; a portrait by Eric Harrison, sketches by Arthur Lismer and a letter and envelope sent to Comfort by Charles Schaefer. Fonds also contains 41,867 photographs, one colour filmstrip, one reel of 8 mm film, an Ottawa-Hull street directory booklet (1945), 24 colour postcards, and ten posters, ca. 1919-1983, related to the artistic career and personal life of Charles Comfort, including the following aspects: work as a graphic designer in Winnipeg (1914-1925) at Brigden's Ltd. and in Toronto (1925-1936) in partnership with Will Ogilvie; charter membership (1926) of the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour; work as a teacher of mural painting at the Ontario College of Art (1936-1938); membership of the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Toronto (1938-1943); service with the Canadian Army in Italy as Senior Official War Artist (1943-1945); work as a member of the staff of the department of Art and Archaeology at the University of Toronto (1946-1960); Canadian Government Overseas Fellowship (1955-1956) to investigate the nature of the 17th Century Dutch master techniques; Presidency of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (1957-1960); Directorship of the National Gallery of Canada (1960-1965); activities of Charles and Louise Comfort, their family and relatives; portraits of their friends; the photographs mostly by Charles Comfort. Fonds also contains 235 drawings, 23 watercolours, 28 prints, four oil paintings, 17 photo-mechanical reproductions and three photographs, 1920-1970, which are drawings of Louise Comfort and Ruth and Anne Comfort as children; life drawings and anatomical diagrams; war drawings; sketches of architecture and landscapes throughout North America and sketches of designs for a 5 cent coin; prepatory sketches for mural commissions such as National Library murals; Vancouver mural; Toronto General Hospital; a mural never completed for a medical centre; designs for carved stone medallions for Montreal Central Station; drawings of family friends like Will Ogilvie, Marion Banting, Frank Prendergast, Pegi Nicol, Isobel Staples and Merril Dennison; these works are by Charles Comfort and other artists, including Bertram Brooker, William Ogilvie, Thoreau MacDonald, Fred Varley, Arthur Lismer, Robert Fawcett, Michael Forster, W. Roloff Beny and others; photographic portraits of Frederick Banting and of Charles Comfort; group photograph of the Canadian Officers' Training Corps, University of Toronto; the photographs by Charles Comfort, Arthur Goss, Nicolas Keleman. Fonds also contains additional graphic materials. A grangerized copy, 1922-1930, of the publication The women of Red River by W.J. Healy (Winnipeg: the Women's Canadian Club, 1923) with eight original drawings by Charles Comfort tipped into the book along with six photographs of the settlement, which depict the walls of the Lower Fort; a Diagram Plan of the Red River Settlement; St. Andrew's Church; John Fraser's Log Home and Miss Davis's School; two woodcut or linocut greeting cards by Pegi Nichol Macleod and a poem illustrated with watercolour, also by Macleod, from the same period as the grangerized publication. 16 photographs, 1922-1971, predominant 1957-1994, are portraits of Dr. Henry Havelock Chown, Dr. Alex Hugh Ferguson, D. McKenzie, Norah Michener and unidentified subjects from manuscripts files (Vol. 15, "Portraiture 1922-1971" and "Portraits: Medical". Fonds also contains a guest book with 39 drawings and two photographs, 1931-1939, kept by Charles Comfort contains signatures of artists, writers and other visitors along with drawings, mostly portraits, by Comfort and other artists. The drawings in the guest book are by Charles Comfort, Will Oglivie, Pegi Nicol MacLeod, Paraskeva Clark, Sally Creighton, Robert Fawcett, Arthur Lismer; Portraits of: Charles Comfort, Will Oglivie, Robert Ayres, André Lapine, Paraskeva Clark, Leo Kennedy, Pegi Nicol MacLeod, Norman Bethune. Signators include Wyndham Lewis, A.Y. Jackson, Barker Fairley, Douglas Duncan, Carl Schaefer, Graham Campbell McInnes, Peter Haworth, Franklin Carmichael, Yvonne McKague, Fred B. Housser, LAC Panton, C.W. Jefferys, Harry and Frances Adaskin, Bertram Brooker, Morley Callaghan, Elizabeth Wyn Wood. Fonds also contains 1,349 photographs, 1939-1975, related to the artistic career of Charles Comfort, including service with the Canadian Army in Europe as Senior Official War Artist (1943-1945); work as a member of the Department of Art and Archaeology at the University of Toronto (1946-1960); Presidency of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (1957-1960); Directorship of the National Gallery of Canada (1960-1965); activities of Charles and Louise Comfort, their family, relatives, and friends; with photographs by Abitibi Power & Paper Co. Ltd.; Doug Bartlett, Ottawa; Ken Bell Photography, Toronto; Canada Wide, Montreal; Canadian National Railways; Canadian Pacific Railways; Clive Clark, Toronto; Alan Collier, Toronto; Charles Comfort; Department of National Defence; Duke Photo, Banff; John Evans Photography Ltd., Ottawa; Thomas Fall, London, England; The Globe and Mail, Toronto; Richard Harrington, Toronto; Jalmar Banquet Photographers, London; N. Keleman; H.R. MacMillan Export Co. Ltd.; Malak, Ottawa; Manitoba Government; R.H. Marlow, Vancouver; Jack Marshall & Co. Ltd., Toronto; Gilbert A. Milne & Co. Ltd., Toronto; Ministère des affaires culturelles du Québec; National Film Board of Canada; National Museum of Canada; Herbert Nott, Toronto; Desmond O'Neill, Ewell, England; John F. Petrie; Provincial Archives of British Columbia; Charles Lea Rea; Rushart Photographer, Vancouver; Star Newspaper Service, Toronto; Toronto Star Weekly; United Press International; Vancouver City Archives; Vancouver News-Herald; Vancouver Province; Vancouver Sun; Ron Vickers Ltd., Toronto; Williams Brothers Photographers, Vancouver; Windsor Star. Fonds also contains additional graphic materials. Four watercolours and one drawing, 1966-1967, predominant 1967, are colour sketches of abstract designs 1966-1967; and a pencil sketch of a proposed mural of medical men throughout history, ca. 1967; all by Comfort. One oil painting, n.d., by Charles Comfort, depicts Heritage House on the Aylmer Road, Hull, Quebec, constructed ca. 1825. Heritage House was the former residence of Tiberius Wright, and was later Charles Comfort's home. Fonds also contains 18 maps and 10 architectural drawings, 1935-1964, consisting of maps relating to the travels of Charles Comfort in Europe and architectural drawings relating to murals designed by Comfort in public buildings. There are also sketches of an unidentified residence. The maps of Canada include street maps of the cities of Montreal, Kitchener-Waterloo, Toronto and Niagara. There are also road maps of London, England, Geneva, Switzerland and Paris, France. The architectural drawings include the Administration Building at the Central Experimental Farm and National Library and Archives Building in Ottawa, Redpath Library Extension, McGill University in Montreal, and the Canadian Pavilion constructed at the Brussels International Exposition in 1958. Fonds also contains a sculpture and postal covers. One plaster sculpture, 1945, by Florence Wyle, depicts Charles Comfort. Six postal covers, 1972, are privately issued first day covers prepared to commemorate the 90th birthday of Canadian artist A.Y. Jackson, October 3, 1972, with all covers including single examples of the Canada 8 cent "Alaska Highway" definitive postage stamp, issued 02-08-1967, which reproduces a painting by A.Y. Jackson, in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada. Three of the covers also contain a special printed cachet commemorating the artist's 90th birthday. The other three contain single examples of the Canada 6 cent "Isle of Spruce" commemorative postage stamp, issued 18-09-1970, which reproduces a painting by Arthur Lismer; this stamp issue having been prepared to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the "Group of Seven". Fonds also contains sound recordings of speeches, interviews and dictated notes by Charles Fraser Comfort as well as recordings of Comfort family celebrations and of speeches by contemporary Canadian artists and art historians, 1962-1982.
- Additional name(s):
- Biography/Administrative history:
Comfort, Charles Fraser, 1900-1994 : Charles Comfort, artist, was born in Edinburgh and came to Canada with his parents in 1912. They settled in Winnipeg, where Comfort apprenticed with the commercial art firm of Brigden's Ltd. in 1914. He began studying at the Winnipeg School of Art in 1916 and then went to New York to study at the Art Students' League 1922-1923. His first exhibition was at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 1922. After marrying Louise Chase in Winnipeg in 1924, Comfort moved with his wife to Toronto in 1925, where he joined Brigden's Toronto office. In 1930 he became art director of Rapid Grip and Batten, but left in 1931 to open his own commercial art studio with fellow artists Will Ogilvie and Harold Ayres. In 1932 he was commissioned to do a mural for the North American Life Building in Toronto, followed in 1937 by the mural for the Canadian pavilion at the Paris Exposition in 1937 and another for Vancouver's Hotel Vancouver in 1938. He was responsible for the stone decorations for the Montreal train station, 1941-1942. During this time Comfort was also painting and went on sketching trips to Northern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, exhibiting his work in Toronto with the Ontario Society of Artists to which he was elected in 1928. He was active in many artists organizations, including the Canadian Society of Graphic Art, which he joined in 1925 (and for which he acted as secretary), and the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour, which he joined in 1926 (and of which he was vice-president 1930-1931). He was a founding member of the Canadian Group of Painters in 1933 (and its secretary 1937-1939 and president 1950). He was elected an associate member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1936, an academician in 1942, and served as its president 1957-1960. He was a member of the Federation of Canadian Artists (1942). In 1943 he designed the reverse of the Canadian Volunteer Services Medal; he also designed the medal of the Art Directors' Club. Comfort began his teaching career in 1935 at the Ontario College of Art, where he directed the department of mural painting until 1938 when he joined the faculty of the University of Toronto's Fine Art Department as a lecturer. He continued to teach at the Ontario College of Art and also taught at the Banff School of Fine Art. He became an associate professor in the University of Toronto's Department of Art and Archaeology in 1940 and taught there for twenty years, until 1960. Among his students were Jean Sutherland Boggs, Doris Shadbolt, William Withrow, Roloff Beny and Russell Harper. During the Second World War, Comfort served with the Canadian Army as a senior war artist, 1943-1946. He published an account of his experiences, Artist at War, in 1956. He returned to Europe in 1955 on a Royal Society Fellowship to study Netherlandish painting. In 1960, Comfort was appointed Director of the National Gallery of Canada (the first artist to hold that position) and he moved to Hull, Quebec. He retired from the Gallery in 1965 and resumed his painting career. He died July 5 at Ottawa. Comfort is known as a muralist, photographer, and portraitist. Later murals included ones for the Veterans Affairs Building, Ottawa (1955) and the National Library and Archives Building, Ottawa (1967), as well as the Academy of Medicine, Toronto (1968). His portraits include many of such prominent subjects as governor-generals (Athlone, Vanier and Michener), provincial premiers (Manitoba's Roblin and Weir), lieutenant-governors (B.C.'s Hamber, Ontario's Macdonald), and Dr. Charles Best and George Ignatieff. He is also well-known for his landscapes in both oil and watercolour, as well as for his war art. Comfort's work is held in major museums across Canada, including the National Gallery, the War Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Comfort has received honorary degrees from Mount Allison and the Royal Military College of Canada. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London, England, 1957. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1972.
- Finding aid:
Textual records (Electronic) The Finding Aid No. 1736 is a file list. MSS1736 (90: Open)
http://data2.archives.ca/pdf/pdf001/p000000340.pdf1,349 photographs, 1939-1975; 158 drawings, ten watercolours, six prints, four autographs, three photo-mechancal process reproductions, n.d., 1908-1955; six postal covers, 1972 (accession 1991-306 DAP): (Paper) Env. 1 photocopies of original envelopes in numerical order located in 326 with a copy in Photo A&R. FA-268Selected postal covers (accession 1991-306 DAP): (Electronic) Descriptions; item level. available online;41,867 photographs, one colour filmstrip, one reel of 8 mm film, an Ottawa-Hull street directory booklet (1945), 24 colour postcards, and ten posters, ca. 1919-1983 (accession 1987-139 NPC): (Paper) Original indexes to slides located in 2000791526. Copies of indexes recalled in 2000791528. FA-198235 drawings, 23 watercolours, 28 prints, four oil paintings, 17 photo-mechanical reproductions and three photographs, 1920-1970 (accession 1994-210 DAP): (Electronic) Description; item level. available online;One grangerized copy of a publication containing eight drawings and six photographs, two photomechanical reproductions and two typewritten sheets, 1922-1930 (accession 1995-143 DAP): (Electronic) Description; item level. on line;16 photographs, 1922-1971, predominant 1957-1994 (accession 1989-457 DAP): (Paper) Biography of Charles Fraser Confort; Accession file.Guest book, 1931-1939 (accession 1992-692 DAP): (Electronic) Description; item level. on line;One oil painting, n.d. (accession 1996-133X DAP): (Electronic) Description; item level. on line;18 maps and 10 architectural drawings, 1935-1964 (accession 912013 CA): (Paper) An itemized listing is available and the collection is indexed according to building type. (Restrictions not set)Sculpture, 1945 (accession 1996-006 DAP): (Electronic) Description; item level. on line;Sound recordings: (Electronic) See MISACS for item level descriptions.
- Additional information:
- General Note:
- The deed of gift was kept in the accession file for accession 1987-139 (NPC)., The Ottawa-Hull street directory booklet (1945), and some of the 24 colour postcards, ca. 1919-1983 (accession 1987-139 NPC) can be found in the accession file., Volumes 31-61 (and part of vol. 30) were received in 1980 from Charles Comfort and volumes 1-30 in 1987 from Charles Comfort through Louise Comfort. The microfilm was prepared in 1965 from diaries lent to the National Archives by Charles Comfort; the original diaries were later received by the Archives as part of the 1987 accession., The Correspondence - Additional Material Series (added to vol. 33) was received in 1995 from Charles Comfort's widow, Louise Comfort.
- Custodial history:
- Acquired from Charles Comfort, from Louise Comfort following the artist's death, from the Comfort estate, and for some items, from various other sources.
- Arrangement note:
- 1987 accession: Arranged before the 1980 accession and consequently is filed at the beginning of the fonds in vols. 1-30., 1980 accession: Filed in vols. 30-61., Subject Files series: Reflects Comfort's own arrangement of his papers into subject files., There is considerable overlap between the various series and the researcher should examine the Finding Aid carefully to avoid overlooking material., Fragile newsprint clippings: Replaced in the files by photocopies., Artworks transferred to VSA: Photocopies of some of these were retained in the files., 1,349 photographs, 1939-1975 (accession 1991-306 DAP): Organized by subject/date; Arranged by the subject and date of the manuscript files from which the photographs were transferred.
- Availability of other formats note:
- The war diaries, 1943-1945: Also available on microfilm reel.
- Associated material note:
- Some exhibition catalogues and other art publications: Transferred to the National Gallery library. See finding aid 1736 for list.
- Subject heading:
- Former archival reference no.:
- Other accession no.:
Ordering and Viewing Options
- Conditions of access:
235 drawings, 23 watercolours, 28 prints, four oil paintings, 17 photo-mechanical reproductions and three photographs, 1920-1970 (accession 1994-210 DAP); a grangerized copy, 1922-1930, of the publication The women of Red River with eight drawings, six photographs; two greeting cards and an illustrated poem (accession 1995-143 DAP); plaster sculpture, 1945 (accession 1996-006 DAP); four watercolours and one drawing, 1966-1967, predominant 1967 (accession 1989-375 DAP): No donor restrictions. Copyright on artworks: artists or their estates (incl. Charles Comfort, Arthur Lismer, William Ogilvie, Pegi Nichol, Florence Wyle). Copyright on photographs: Expired. Credit: National Archives of Canada. Documents must be consulted under close supervision for conservation reasons.
41,867 photographs, one colour filmstrip, one reel of 8 mm film (DAP), an Ottawa-Hull street directory booklet (1945), 24 colour postcards, and ten posters, ca. 1919-1983 (accession 1987-139 NPC); 16 photographs, 1922-1971, predominant 1957-1994 (accession 1989-457 DAP): No donor restrictions. Various copyrights. Credit: Name of photographer / National Archives of Canada / Copy negative no. Documents must be consulted under close supervision for conservation reasons.
Guest book with 39 drawings and two photographs, 1931-1939 (accession 1992-692 DAP): No donor restrictions. Copyright: varies with each artist. Credit: Gift of Charles and Louise Comfort. Documents must be consulted under close supervision for conservation reasons.
Oil painting, n.d. (accession 1996-133X DAP): No donor restrictions. Copyright: Estate of Charles Comfort. Credit: National Archives of Canada / Gift of Charles Comfort. Documents must be consulted under close supervision for conservation reasons.
1,349 photographs, 1939-1975; 158 drawings, ten watercolours, six prints, four autographs, three photo-mechancal process reproductions, n.d., 1908-1955; six postal covers, 1972 (accession 1991-306 DAP): See clauses 4b and 4c of the agreement with Charles Comfort regarding accessibility of archival material. Copyright: various copyrights. Documents must be consulted under close supervision for conservation reasons.
10 architectural drawings, 1935-1964; 18 maps, 1935-1964 (accession 912013 CA): The collection is restricted for a period of 25 years after the death of either Charles Comfort or Louise Comfort, whichever occurs later. See collection file.
Sound recordings: No restrictions on consultation. Reproduction with permission of copyright owner.
- Date modified: