GATINEAU, QC, June 16 /CNW Telbec/ - The iconic portraits of four 18th-century First Peoples diplomats have been installed for display at the Canadian Museum of Civilization for this summer. The "Four Indian Kings": War and Diplomacy in 1710 exhibit is organized in collaboration with Library and Archives Canada. It marks the 300th anniversary of a historic milestone, when Aboriginal emissaries travelled to London to visit Queen Anne. The quartet of famous oil paintings will be presented with related historical information.
The "Four Indian Kings" were members of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquoian) and Algonquian nations. They accompanied British colonial leaders intent on securing an Aboriginal alliance against France in the battle for control of North America. To commemorate their visit, the Queen in 1710 commissioned artist John Verelst to paint their portraits in a style reserved for royalty and heads of state. In recognition of their special status, the British called the men "Indian kings."
"This is an extraordinary opportunity to show and see such historically significant masterpieces," says Victor Rabinovitch, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. "The visit to London profoundly influenced relations between British and French powers in North America. The Aboriginal diplomats also captured the public's imagination, inspiring ballads, fictional love stories and written accounts that fed Britain's lasting fascination with the First Peoples of North America."
Three hundred years later, these four portraits are considered a valuable record of early cultural and political diplomacy between Aboriginal peoples and the British.
"The four portraits are among the most significant documents held by Library and Archives Canada," notes Dr. Daniel J. Caron, Librarian and Archivist of Canada. "This is another example of how Library and Archives Canada is working in partnership to bring the collection to Canadians across the country."
The portraits were held in the British Royal Collection for almost 140 years. They were acquired by the Government of Canada from a private collection in 1977.
This exhibition, developed in partnership with Library and Archives Canada, will remain on display at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, in Gatineau, Quebec, until September 6, 2010.
Library and Archives Canada is planning a Canadian tour of the "Four Indian Kings" exhibition, including a stop at the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford, Ontario this fall, to commemorate the portraits' 300th anniversary.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization is the centre for research and public information on the social and human history of the country. Located on the shores of the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec, the Museum is Canada's largest and most popular cultural institution, attracting over 1.3 million visitors each year. The Museum of Civilization's principal role is to preserve and promote the heritage of Canada for present and future generations, thereby contributing to the promotion and enhancement of Canadian identity.
(C) Library and Archives Canada / Portrait Gallery of Canada
SOURCE Canadian Museum of History
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