- 1923-1993, predominant 1947-1993 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
7.6 m of textual records 1,292 photographs
Name of creator
Sam and Ayala Zacks were prominent Canadian art collectors of international repute active in the mid-20th century whose gifts form the basis of the modern European art collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Ayala Ben Tovim Fleg Zacks Abramov (1912-) was born in Jerusalem and educated in Israel, Paris and London. In 1938 she married Maurice Fleg in Paris, and joined the French Resistance after her husband died in action in1940. Active in Zionist circles after the war, she met Sam Zacks in Switzerland. Samuel J. Zacks (1904-1970) was a financier, Zionist and art collector, born in Kingston Ontario and educated at Queen’s University and Harvard. Following their marriage in 1947 they immediately began to collect art of the School of Paris as well as Canadian and Israeli art and antiquities, amassing an extensive collection by the late 1950’s that was in continual demand by museums around the world. In 1956 a collection of Canadian art was donated to Queen’s University, Mr. Zack’s alma mater, the first of many significant gifts to institutions in Israel and Canada including the Hazor Archaeological Museum, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Mr. and Mrs. Zacks were both involved in international art circles, sitting on the Boards of the International Committee of Museums (ICOM), a branch of UNELA.SCO, the International Committee of the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Gallery of Ontario and others. In 1969 Mr. Zacks received an Honourary Fellowship from St. Peter’s College, Oxford. He died in 1970 in Toronto. After his death, Ayala Zacks was awarded the Order of Canada and an honourary degree from the University of Toronto. She married Zalman Abramov, an Israeli lawyer and politician in 1976 and moved permanently to Israel in 1982.
Name of creator
Material was received by the AGO in two stages, both originating from the office of Conreal, Inc., Mrs. Zacks’ business office. There are notes indicating that the registrar’s office received 28 boxes of records in 1990. Registration staff sorted the initial gift and photocopied items for their files; two students worked on the files in 1990 and 1991. By 1992 they were in the library’s care. In June 1993 fourteen records boxes of papers were received by the library when Conreal was liquidated.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Content and structure area
Scope and content
The fonds consists of correspondence with art dealers, artists and public art institutions, invoices, shipping and customs forms and other documents relating to their involvement in the international art market in the mid-20th century. Carbon copies of letters written by the Zacks and letters written to them are included. The fonds also contains the administrative files kept by the Zacks: insurance lists, index cards for art and books, photographs and catalogues. The fonds includes the records of the Zacks’ involvement as board members in a variety of organizations relating to the arts, including agendas, memos, minutes of meetings, and travel arrangements. Correspondence files document the Zacks’ involvement in the State of Israel, through its cultural institutions, and communication with prominent citizens. Mrs. Zacks’ papers created after her husband’s death relate to her honourary degree, the Order of Canada, board activities and social involvement. Fonds is comprised of the following series: General correspondence Artist files Dealer files Public institution files Exhibition catalogues Photographs Administrative files Exhibitions of the collection Boards and committees Israel Personal
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 is held by the creators and their heirs. It is the researcher's responsibility to obtain permission to publish any part of the fonds.
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related units of description
Correspondence may be in French, Hebrew and occasionally German.
Subject access points
Place access points
Name access points
Genre access points
Description control area
Rules and/or conventions used
Level of detail
Dates of creation revision deletion
Originally prepared in 2003.
Uploaded and adapted by Nirvana Chainani, 2019.