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In October 1863, Reverend Robert J. Dundas of Scotland purchased eighty ceremonial objects that missionary William Duncan had acquired from Tsimshian Indians living along the coast of British Columbia. The collection included carved clubs, masks, rattles, bowls, and headdresses. It remained in the Dundas family until October 2006, when it was sold at auction for more than seven million dollars, a record for a private collection of Northwest art.
This stunning book is the permanent record of the collection before much of it was repatriated to Native communities and the remainder was disbursed to museums and individuals. Thirty-six masterpieces of Tsimshian art are displayed in fifty full-color photographs. Essays by leading scholars of Northwest Coast art describe the history and importance of this extraordinary collection.
Donald Ellis is a dealer in North American Native art. He played a major role in the acquisition of part of the Dundas Collection, and in the organization of the subsequent exhibition and book. Steven Clay Brown is a former curator of Native American art at the Seattle Art Museum who has written five books on Northwest Coast art, as well as articles and essays for many other publications. Bill Holm is a writer, former curator at the Burke Museum and University of Washington professor emeritus of art history. Alan L. Hoover is a former curator and manager at the Royal BC Museum who has written extensively on the culture and art of Northwest Coast peoples. Sarah Milroy is a former editor of Canadian Art magazine who has written widely on Canadian art, notably for The Globe and Mail. William White is a Tsimshian Chilkat weaver and a director of the Museum of Northern British Columbia in Prince Rupert.
This collection gives us a remarkable measure, a dated picture of the arts of the Tsimshian of the northern Northwest Coast in the early years of outsider contact. Because of this, the Dundas collection stands out as a unique and valuable source of information, eminently useful in establishing the characteristics of northern British Columbia Native art in the middle years of the nineteenth century. - Bill Holm