Collection LA.SC004 - Emily Elliott collection

Identity area

Reference code



Emily Elliott collection


  • 1861-1925 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1.08 m of graphic material

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Emily Louise (Orr) Elliott (1867–1952) was a Canadian commercial artist and painter of landscapes and floral still lifes. Born in Montreal, she studied in the 1880s at the Ontario School of Art in Toronto (now the Ontario College of Art and Design University), the Art Students’ League in New York City and the New York School of Art. Emily Louise Orr married physician John Ephraim Elliott (1858–1940) in Toronto in 1893; they had one son, Leighton Henry Elliott (1894–1947).

Emily Elliott worked in fashion illustration in Toronto probably between 1900 and 1930. As a painter, she also exhibited with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (1898–1910) and with the Ontario Society of Artists (1899–1925), and was appointed in 1895 to the Canadian National Exhibition art committee, on which she served for 33 years. She was associated with the Art Museum of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario) in its earliest years and in 1918 and 1919 she participated in organizing exhibitions of pictures for children at the Museum. As an illustrator of women’s clothing designs, she created newspaper advertisements for the Toronto star, drawings for the Robert Simpson department store catalogue and fashion posters.

Before and during her career, she assembled a collection of the work of other illustrators published in books and magazines, chiefly from the 1880s to 1920s, a collection she gave to the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario) in 1925.

Emily Elliott was a member of the Toronto Women’s Press Club (from 1912) and the Heliconian Club.

She died in Toronto in 1952. Her paintings and drawings are in the collections of the City of Toronto Market Gallery, the Toronto Public Library and the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, Ont.

Archival history

The materials now constituting the Emily Elliott collection are mentioned in the accession book of the Art Gallery of Toronto for 1925, although the items in the collection were not accessioned by the Gallery. At unknown dates, the fashion magazine covers in the collection were transferred to the Prints and Drawings collection, and the library of the Gallery assumed custody of the remaining material.

In 1974, part of the Emily Elliott collection (603 items) was given to the Fine Art Section of the Metropolitan Toronto Central Library (now the Toronto Reference Library). The magazine covers that remained with Prints and Drawings at the Art Gallery of Ontario were transferred to the Library and Archives of the Gallery in 2014, re-uniting what remained of the collection, although illustrations by some of the artists listed in library documentation for the collection in 1976 were not found in 2014.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

AGO credit line: Gift of Emily Elliott, 1925

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Collection consists of illustrations clipped from fashion magazines, general-interest periodicals, children’s
picture books and other illustrated books, bringing together the work of over 275 illustrators published
between the 1860s and the 1920s, chiefly in the United States, Britain and Canada.
Fashion magazine covers in series 1 featuring imaginative and extravagant costumes are full colour
lithographs, as are most of the sheets in series 4 (Illustrations from publications for children). Illustrations
in series 2 (Book and magazine illustrations) are largely achromatic images depicting events in fictional
and poetic works, and include printed black-and-white wood engravings. Many folders contain a single
sheet of illustration by one artist, while series 3 (Gustave Doré illustrations) consists of more than two
hundred published wood engravings by prolific French artist Gustave Doré. The collection of over 3000
items offers a perspective on the era of illustration by graphic artists before it was largely superseded
(except in children’s literature) by photography.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


No further accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

The original order of the contents of the collection is not known. Materials have been arranged by the archives.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Open. Access to Special Collections is by appointment only. Please contact the reference desk for more information.

Conditions governing reproduction

Various copyright holders. It is the researcher’s responsibility to obtain permission to publish any part of
the collection. Permission of the Art Gallery of Ontario is required for publication.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids
Indexes to artists and magazine issues in series 1 (Fashion magazine covers) are available.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Fashion plates and costume illustrations from the 19th and 20th centuries collected by Emily Elliott are in the holdings of the Department of World Cultures (Textiles & Costume) of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

Fashion magazine covers collected by Emily Elliott are held by the Special Collections Department of the Toronto Reference Library.

Related descriptions

Notes area


Possibly at the time of the donation (1925) of her collection of illustrations to the Art Gallery of Toronto,
Emily Elliott donated illustrated books, now in the library collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario Library
and Archives.
The permanent collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario includes works by artists whose illustrations
form part of this collection: Edward Burne-Jones, J. André Castaigne, Howard Chandler Christy, Stuart
Davis, Jean-Gabriel Domergue, Gustave Doré, George Du Maurier, James Montgomery Flagg, Myles
Birket Foster, Charles Dana Gibson, William James Glackens, Ernest Haskell, Arthur Hughes, William
Holman Hunt, Franz Johnston, Martin Justice, Charles Samuel Keene, Arthur Ignatius Keller, Troy
Kinney, Frederic Leighton, Robert Walker Macbeth, John Everett Millais, Maxfield Parrish, Henry
McCarter, F. Luis Mora, William Mulready the younger, Thornton Oakley, Edward Penfield, Joseph
Pennell, Edward John Poynter, Louis John Rhead, Briton Rivière, Norman Rockwell, Dante Gabriel
Rossetti, Frederick Sandys, Albert Edward Sterner, Dorothy Stevens, Harrison William Weir and James
McNeill Whistler.


Although artists Jay Hambidge, Henry Reuterdahl, Albert Beck Wenzell and Frederick Coffay Yohn are
mentioned in administrative documentation (1976) for the collection, no illustrations by them were found
in 2014.

Alternative identifier(s)

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Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Edward P. Taylor Library & Archives, Art Gallery of Ontario

Rules and/or conventions used

Description based on Rules for Archival Description (Ottawa: Bureau of Canadian Archivists, 2008), with vocabulary authority from the Art & Architecture Thesaurus (Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Calif.) and name authority from the Union List of Artist Names (Getty Research Institute), supplemented by VIAF: Virtual International Authority File (Online Computer Library Center, Dublin, Ohio) and other sources.



Level of detail


Dates of creation revision deletion

Created 21 September 2018.


  • English



Archivist's note

Description and finding aid prepared by Gary Fitzgibbon, 2014–2015, entered into AtoM by Amy Furness, 2018.
Uploaded and adapted by Nirvana Chainani.

Accession area

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