Collection LA.SC164 - Judith Nasby-Rolph Scarlett collection

Identity area

Reference code



Judith Nasby-Rolph Scarlett collection


  • [ca. 1928]-2008 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

17 drawings
22 pages of drawings with text
2 cm textual records
1 audiocassette

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Rolph Scarlett was a pioneering non-objective painter, jewellery designer, stage designer and educator known for his association with the Guggenheim Museum and Hilla Rebay. Born in Guelph, Ontario, Scarlett had early training in jewellery design through apprenticeship in a family business, and briefly attended the Art Students' League in New York. He returned to Canada for periods of time in the 1910s and 1930s, in between efforts to establish his career as a designer in the United States and internationally. On business travel to Switzerland in 1923, he encountered Paul Klee and became a proponent of pure abstraction in art. Scarlett moved to New York in 1937, becoming acquainted with Hilla Rebay and Rudolf Bauer, and winning a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. Rebay purchased sixty of Scarlett's works for the collection of the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, affirming his significance to the founding collection of what would become the Guggenheim Museum. Scarlett joined the staff as the museum's chief lecturer from 1940 to 1946. Scarlett's work is held in major collections including the Guggenheim Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and the de Young Museum.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Judith Nasby is a retired curator and educator based in Guelph, Ontario, known for her work at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre (now Art Gallery of Guelph), in particular her exhibitions on Inuit artists and artists from the Guelph area. She made contact with Rolph Scarlett in the mid-1970s, visiting him at his home and establishing a friendship and correspondence. Scarlett entrusted her with a group of his early abstract studies and copies of key documents for her research. He undertook to teach her his method of non-objective composition through a lively correspondence course in 1976 and 1977. Nasby's 2004 book Rolph Scarlett: Painter, Designer, Jeweller was the eventual culmination of her research.

Archival history

Material comprising this collection was given to Judith Nasby by Rolph Scarlett or accumulated by Nasby in the course of their correspondence. It remained in her possession until its transfer to AGO in two parts on November 5 and December 3, 2019.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

AGO Credit line: Gift of Judith Nasby, 2021

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Collection consists of research on Rolph Scarlett by Judith Nasby, correspondence between Rolph Scarlett and Judith Nasby on his artistic method, and studies by Rolph Scarlett.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


No further accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

Collection is arranged in three series.

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

Copyright is held by the creators or their heirs. Copyright belonging to other parties, such as that of photographs, may still rest with the creator of these items. It is the researcher’s responsibility to obtain permission to publish any part of the collection.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

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Finding aids

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Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

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

Rules and/or conventions used



Level of detail


Dates of creation revision deletion

Originally prepared 2020; uploaded 2022.


  • English



Archivist's note

Prepared by Aline Zara, uploaded by Amy Furness.

Accession area

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