What do you do when you find out you’ve made a mistake? You correct it. For decades, the Confederation Centre Art Gallery has incorrectly attributed six artworks in its permanent collection. They depict scenes of historic Prince Edward Island in pencil and watercolour, and prominently feature Government House and the North Shore. Most have tidy inscriptions, including several with dates going back to the mid-1850s. Some feature a discreet signature of “CLDaly.” For many years, the collection has been incorrectly attributed to a number of male artists. Today, after extensive research, the Gallery is pleased to return credit to the true artist: Caroline Louisa Daly. Caroline Louisa Daly (1832-1893) was born in Montreal to the family of Sir Dominick Daly, who served as Lieutenant-Governor of Prince Edward Island from 1854-1859. During her father’s tenure, Caroline and her family lived at Government House overlooking Charlottetown harbour. She was a talented amateur artist, regularly sketching and painting throughout her life. Though she was never publicly recognized, her artwork provides excellent documentary images of historical Charlottetown and Prince Edward Island. It also allows us a window into Caroline’s artistic practice and daily life. As women’s history becomes more widely recognized as an important missing piece of our collective past, this research and the resulting reattribution are small but essential steps in correcting the wider historical narrative.
The six pieces from the Gallery’s permanent collection are contextualized by examples of Caroline’s work from other collections, including six works from the private collection of her descendants. Together, they illustrate the artistic practice of a woman who travelled the world, who looked for artistic subjects beyond her immediate surroundings to test herself, and who captured scenes that women of her social station would rarely have had the opportunity to experience for themselves.
Paige Matthie, Registrar
For more information on the Daly exhibition visit the following websites:
Radio Canada International, http://www.rcinet.ca/en/2017/01/17/exhibit-honours-correctly-identifies-female-artist/