Bader gift enhances Art Centre's collections

Bader gift enhances Art Centre's collections

April 21, 2014


By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre will serve as a richer and more in-depth resource for students, faculty and the regional cultural community with the donation of 68 paintings from the personal collection of Alfred (Sc’45, Arts’45, MSc’47, LLD’86) and Isabel (LLD’07) Bader.

[Alfred Bader with David de Witt]During his recent visit to campus, Alfred Bader toured the Agnes Etherington Art Centre with David de Witt, the Bader Curator of European Art.

The paintings join more than 130 works including two Rembrandts that the Baders have donated to the Art Centre since 1967.

“We are thrilled to receive this transformative gift, and honoured to be entrusted by the Baders with its care and interpretation,” says Jan Allen, Director of the Art Centre. “As visitors will discover, the quality of the works is truly outstanding. We are very excited to have the opportunity to work with such an amazing collection, and eager to share it with our immediate community and with students, researchers and audiences around the globe.”

The 68 paintings span a time period of 1610-1710 and represent 49 different artists. Alfred Bader’s passion for paintings from this period led him to start collecting the art works in 1951. His collection grew dramatically over several decades.

Dr. Bader has taken great care researching the works by Dutch and Flemish artists of the Baroque era. The resulting collection offers insight into evolving painting techniques and helps shed light on the political, religious and philosophical underpinnings of society at that time.

The quality of the works is truly outstanding. We are very excited to work with such an amazing collection, and eager to share it with our immediate community and with students, researchers and audiences around the globe.

– Jan Allen, Director of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre

The Bader Collection supports experiential learning opportunities for students and helps advance research and scholarship in art history. Queen’s is one of the few universities in the world that gives students the chance to examine original works of such high quality art in a campus setting supported by conservators and specialists in Baroque art.

“We have had numerous assignments where we have to do a visual analysis of a work. While you can do that from an image in a textbook, you don’t see as much detail as you do seeing it in person,” says Amanda Thackway (MA’15). “I will come to the Art Centre for hours and hours staring at one painting, going over every square inch. It’s a really intimate experience having that here at Queen’s.”

The use of the Bader Collection is not limited to art students and faculty. Professors from education, engineering and health science use the Bader Collection to augment their teaching and encourage new ways of understanding.

Alan Wilkinson, a lecturer in the Faculty of Education, says teacher-candidates, in particular future art teachers, can draw from Dr. Bader’s approach to art collection as they think about designing their curriculum.

“The Bader Collection, through its finely tuned curation, is a wonderful launching pad for students of all ages in encountering original works of art because it helps them look at art as a way of conveying meaning, and as a way of anchoring art in the disciplines of studio production and art history,” he says.

Alfred and Isabel Bader are two of Queen’s most loyal alumni. Their philanthropy includes the establishment of numerous chairs and fellowships, support for the new performing arts centre, and the gift of Herstmonceux Castle, now home to the Bader International Study Centre.

The Baders’ most recent gift of paintings represents a significant commitment to Queen’s Initiative Campaign, the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the university’s history.

“The Baders’ latest act of generosity advances the Initiative Campaign’s goals of enhancing the student learning experience and expanding the university’s global reputation in discovery and inquiry,” says Judith Brown, Associate Vice-Principal (Advancement). “We are grateful they have offered to share such a personal gift with Queen’s.”

An exhibition highlighting several paintings from the recent gift will run at the Art Centre April 26-June 1. The opening reception for The Bader Collection Gift exhibition will take place Saturday, April 26 from 5-7 pm at the Art Centre (36 University Ave.).