Discrete item LA.SC146 - Lucius O'Brien studio journal

Identity area

Reference code



Lucius O'Brien studio journal


  • 1882-1895 (Creation)

Level of description

Discrete item

Extent and medium

1 v. of textual records (124 p.)
1 drawing

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Lucius Richard O’Brien (1832–1899) was a Canadian painter best known for his landscape paintings in oil and watercolour. Born near Barrie in Upper Canada, he attended Upper Canada College in Toronto 1844–1846, where he studied art under artist and architect John G. Howard. In 1856 he moved to Orillia, Ont. and then to Toronto in 1870. After a career in business, O’Brien began landscape painting in 1872. Lucius O’Brien was vice-president of the Ontario Society of Artists 1874–1880 and soon after became the first president of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. His contribution to the first annual exhibition of the Academy was Sunrise on the Saguenay, Cape Trinity (1880), among his most famous works. O’Brien was instrumental in 1876 in founding the Ontario School of Art (now the Ontario College of Art and Design University) and was the editor of the successful publication Picturesque Canada (1882–1884), which featured his own work along with that of other artists. His artistic travels took him from the Atlantic coast of Canada to the Pacific; he was one of the first artists invited to travel to and paint the Rocky Mountains on the newly completed Canadian Pacific Railway in 1886. The varied landscapes of the country are rendered in his paintings in a poetic realist style. His works are in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada and other public art museums. Lucius O’Brien married Margaret St John (d. 1866) in 1860 and Katherine Jane (Brough) Parker in 1888. No children were born of either marriage. He died in Toronto at the age of 67 and was buried in Shanty Bay, Ont near where he was born.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

AGO credit line: Gift of R.F. Segsworth, 1918

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Item is a notebook used by Lucius O’Brien to record sales of his paintings year by year between 1882 and 1895, including names of purchasers and prices paid, both privately and at exhibitions. Notes in the journal also include income from art lessons. Beginning at the back of the journal on inverted pages (p. 94–[126]) are checklists of names of members of the Ontario Society of Artists and their addresses; with household and other notes.
Extracts from catalogues of art dealers and exhibitors and other material pasted into the journal include items from the Art Association of Montreal; Jno. B. Hall, M.D., Toronto; Thomas McLean’s Gallery in Haymarket, London; Matthews Brothers, Toronto; Dolman & Son Picture Frame Makers &c., London; W. Scott & Sons, Montreal; and the Palette Club, Toronto. Some leaves of pasted items have become detached.
Enclosures (loose) consist of a drawing of a sailing vessel, signed by the artist and dated 1882 (1 leaf); and a letter (1883) from J. Nathan, Burlington Gallery, London (1 leaf).

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


No further accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

Discrete item

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Item to be used under supervision. Access to Special Collections is by appointment only.

Conditions governing reproduction

Material in this collection is in the public domain. Permission of the Art Gallery of Ontario is required for publication.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

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Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

The Art Gallery of Ontario holds paintings by Lucius O’Brien in its permanent collection.

Related descriptions

Notes area


Item is a blankbook bound in morocco leather, stamped on the spine and cover “STUDIO JOURNAL / L. R. O’Brien / 1882.”

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Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Created 22 January 2018


  • English



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Physical storage

  • Clamshell box: Lucius O'Brien studio journal