The Tovell family of Toronto, in particular Harold Murchison Tovell (1887-1947), Ruth Massey Tovell (1889-1961) and their son Vincent Massey Tovell (b. 1922), was active in art circles in Toronto for several decades following the First World War. Harold Tovell and Ruth Massey married in 1910 and in 1913-1914 travelled in Europe, visiting the major art galleries. Returning to Toronto, they lived on the eastern edge of the city in Dentonia Park, the Massey estate, until 1936 when they moved to the city centre. The Tovells built a collection of works by Canadian and European artists. In France in 1926 they met French painter Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) through their friend American author and artist Walter Pach (1883-1958). In 1928 they purchased a painting by Duchamp’s older half-brother Jacques Villon (1875-1963) at an exhibition in New York. They met Jacques and Gaby Villon in Paris in 1930 and corresponded with them until the 1960s. The Villons befriended Vincent who visited them in France in the years before the Second World War. From 1941 to 1947, the Tovells lived near Port Hope, Ontario. After her husband’s death, Mrs Tovell returned to live in Toronto. Harold and Ruth Tovell had three other sons: Walter (b. 1916), a geologist and Director of the Royal Ontario Museum 1972-1975, Freeman (b. 1918), diplomat and historian, and Harold (1919-2002), a physician. They bequeathed many of their artworks to the Royal Ontario Museum, the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario.