Burgundy ink on cream paper. Three young boys respectively engaged in painting, drawing and sculpting are enclosed by a large circle, at the center of which lies an open book. The entire bookplate is surrounded by a multi-layered border. The artist’s remarque is in the lower right hand corner of the border.
Founded in 1880, it wasn’t until 1914 that the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa commissioned a bookplate from Alfred H. Howard (1854-1916), for their art library. Born in Liverpool, Howard established himself in Toronto in 1876 where he specialized in armorial designs. He was elected a member of the Royal Canadian Academy 1881 and was influential on fellow artist J. E. H. MacDonald despite never having attended art school. Another version of this bookplate exists. It is identical in design except, it is enclosed by an additional decorative frame featuring a pair of estucheons, oak leaves and acorns, maple leaves, irises, abstract vegetation, a crown (between lion and unicorn), and a beaver. It is not clear whether the version depicted here was created contemporaneously to this original design or reproduced at a later date. An example of both versions may be found in the Phillippe Masson Ex Libris Collection at McGill University. That collection also contains Howard’s own self-designed ex libris which consists of young boy painting within a circular frame. It is highly reminiscent of the top image of the boy painting in the National Gallery of Canada’s bookplate. For more information on the Thomas Murray Collection, see: http://www.library.ubc.ca/spcoll/murray/default.html