- 1831-2010, predominant 1900-1965 (Creation)
- 1831-2010, predominant 1900-1965 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
1.2 m of textual records
28 cm of graphic material
Name of creator
Gilbert Forrest Bagnani (1900-1985) was a professor of ancient history. He was born in Rome to General Ugo Bagnani and Florence Dewar. He served as a Second Lieutenant of artillery towards the end of World War I. After the War he returned to the University of Rome where he received his doctorate. Instead of entering law as he had planned, he turned to the Italian School of Archaeology in Athens to study antiquities. In 1929 Gilbert married Mary Augusta Stewart Houston (1903-1996) of Toronto, daughter of Stewart Houston (editor of "The Financial Post") and Augusta Robinson (daughter of John Beverley Robinson, Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, and granddaughter of Sir John Beverley Robinson, Chief Justice and Attorney-General of Upper Canada). Gilbert and Stewart had an apartment in Rome and for seven seasons worked, in the Sahara Desert, with the Royal Archaeological Mission to Egypt. In 1937 they fled fascist Italy and purchased a 200 acre farm and house built around 1845 near Port Hope, Ontario and named it "Vogrie". In 1945 Gilbert was invited to teach ancient history at the University of Toronto and in 1958 became a Professor. He retired from the University of Toronto in 1965. The Bagnanis returned to "Vogrie". In the same year, Gilbert was asked to accept a term-appointment at Trent University. He was honoured with a LL.D. by Trent in 1971 and he continued to teach as a Professor of Ancient History until 1975.
Name of creator
Mary Augusta Stewart Houston Bagnani (1903–1996), known after marriage as Stewart Bagnani, was an administrator at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario) and a lecturer in fine art. Born in Toronto of a distinguished family, she was the daughter of Stewart Fielde Houston (1868–1910), manager of Massey Hall in Toronto and first editor of The Financial Post. Her mother was Augusta Louise Beverley (Robinson) Houston (1859–1935), daughter of Mary Jane (Hagerman) Robinson (1823–1892) and John Beverley Robinson (1821–1896), mayor of Toronto (1856), member of Parliament in Ottawa (1872–1880) and Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario (1880–1887). Augusta Robinson was one of five children: John Beverley, Napier, Christopher, Minnie Caroline (d. 1923; from 1881 Mrs William Forsyth Grant) and Augusta herself (from 1898, Mrs Stewart Fielde Houston). Stewart Bagnani’s great-grandfather was Sir John Beverley Robinson (1791–1863), Chief Justice of Canada West (now Ontario) from 1829 to 1862. (Mary Augusta) Stewart Houston attended school in England and in Toronto (Bishop Strachan School), and later studied art history in Rome, where she met Gilbert Bagnani. After her marriage to Dr Bagnani in Toronto in 1929, Stewart Bagnani worked beside her husband in the excavations at Tebtunis entrusted to the Royal Italian Archaeological Expedition in Egypt of which Dr Bagnani was director. On site, she drew and painted watercolours (now at Trent University) of early Coptic church frescoes, and recorded observations of excavation workers and of local customs to accompany Dr Bagnani’s photographs. When Gilbert and Stewart Bagnani moved to Canada in 1937, they worked at enlarging the farmhouse on their estate Vogrie to accommodate collections of books and works of art. In the 1950s, a mural was commissioned for a room in the house from Canadian artist William Ronald (1926–1998) of the Painters Eleven. In 1951, while her husband was teaching at the University of Toronto, Mrs Bagnani became head of Extension at the Art Gallery of Toronto, a position she held until 1963. When Dr Bagnani accepted a post at Trent University in Peterborough, Ont. in 1965, Mrs Bagnani gave lectures there on fine art, worked on promoting the Mackenzie Gallery at the university and volunteered at Kingston (Ont.) Penitentiary. A pamphlet and transcripts of two lectures by Stewart Bagnani are in the library collection of the AGO.
After her husband died in 1985, Stewart Bagnani lived in Toronto until her death in 1996 at the age of 93. She was buried with her husband Gilbert in Cobourg (Ont.).
Materials now constituting the Gilbert and Stewart Bagnani fonds were donated by Mrs. Bagnani to the Art Gallery of Ontario after her husband's death in 1985. After Stewart Bagnani's death in 1996, the heir to her house in Toronto, Nancy Robertson Dillow, donated correspondence she found there to the AGO (1997 and 2000). The country estate, Vogrie, was inherited by Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, which subsequently sold archival material not retained by the university at auction. Some of this material, including glass photographic slides and negatives and the film of the Egyptian expedition, was obtained by Eleanor Currie (who had been hired to catalogue the contents of Vogrie) and given to the AGO. The album of postage stamps was similarly obtained by bookseller Hugh Anson-Cartwright, from whom it was purchased by Larry Pfaff, who gave it to the AGO.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Donated by Stewart Bagnani between 1985 and 1991; correspondence given by Nancy Dillow in 1997 and 2000; slides, motion pictures and sound recordings donated by Eleanor Currie 1996-1998. An album of postage stamps was donated by Larry Pfaff in 2008.
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Fonds consists of personal and professional records created by Gilbert and Stewart Bagnani and their families, chiefly in Europe, North Africa, and Canada, for the most part between ca. 1910 and 1955, comprising photographs of Gilbert Bagnani's travels and archaeological work in Italy, Greece, Turkey, Libya and Egypt in the 1920s and 1930s; a motion picture of his activities in and around Tebtunis in Egypt in 1934; correspondence between the Bagnanis themselves, Gilbert Bagnani's mother Florence Bagnani and other family members; photos of the families of Gilbert and Stewart Bagnani, including 19th-century photo portraits of their Dewar, Houston, and Robinson relatives; a collection of copy prints and glass slides of art and antiquities used by Dr. Bagnani in his university teaching; audio recordings of Dr. Bagnani lecturing; albums of clippings and memorabilia of family and social events; miscellaneous printed, typescript and manuscript items; photos of the Bagnanis at Trent University in the 1980s; an album of postage stamps; and other material.
- Family photographs
- Archaeological and travel photographs
- Art history images
- Albums and scrapbooks
- Miscellaneous records
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
No further accruals are expected.
System of arrangement
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Conditions governing reproduction
Copyright has been transferred to the Art Gallery of Ontario. Copyright belonging to other parties, such as that of photographs, may still rest with the creator of these items. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain permission to publish any part of the fonds.
Language of material
Script of material
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Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related units of description
Titles of series, files and items are supplied and based on their contents except where noted.
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Description control area
Rules and/or conventions used
Level of detail
Dates of creation revision deletion
June 5, 2012
August 8, 2013 by Gary Fitzgibbon
Uploaded and adapted by Nirvana Chainani, 2019