Fonds P098 - Frederick Simpson Coburn fonds

Film, Frederick Coburn dances with Carlotta

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Frederick Simpson Coburn fonds

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  • 1828-2010 (Creation)

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Physical description

0.64 l.m. of textual records, 222 photographs, 77 postcards, 151 images, 1 film (3 min., 46 sec.): 8 mm, Kodachrome, col., 1 audio tape cassette, 1 compact disc.

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Frederick Simpson Coburn (A.R.C.A. 1920, R.C.A. 1927) was born in Melbourne, Québec on March 18, 1871. After attending Saint Francis College in Richmond, he trained as an artist, studying first at the Arts and Crafts School in Montréal, at New York's Carl Hecker School of Art, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Germany, in Paris, and at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium.
Like many artists from this time, Coburn achieved recognition first as an illustrator and then as a painter. From 1898 to 1913, he illustrated many literary works, including those of William Henry Drummond, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, and Louis Fréchette. Coburn returned to Canada from Europe in 1913. At this time, he began painting Québec landscapes, in particular winter scenes with horses, which became some of his most well-known work.
Coburn's work can be found in The National Gallery of Canada, the National Archives of Canada, the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, and Bishop's University. As well, his work is found in private collections in the USA, Belgium, Germany, and Japan.
He died in Melbourne, Québec, on 26 May 1960.

Custodial history

The documents were donated to the archives in 1992 and 1996 by W.N. Coburn, nephew of the painter. Some of them had been found in the donor's residence in Melbourne, mingled with documents relating to Daniel Thomas Sr. and Jr. and William Hoste Webb. In 2013, Teri Coburn, the painter's great-niece, donated the remaining documents that had been retained and collected by the family.

Scope and content

The fonds contains primary source information on the life and work of Coburn as an illustrator and painter. It consists mainly of biographical works, photographs, postcards, correspondence, scrapbooks, magazines, some original works (unsigned), prints and reproductions of Canadian, American, and European works from various publications, and documents related to reproduction of Coburn's works. The fonds is comprised of the following series: Private Life (1844-2008), Artistic Endeavours (1893-2010), Professional Life/Affaires (1893-2005), Finances and Property (1914-1964), and Personal Collections (1828-[1960?]).

Notes area

Physical condition

Some items exhibit mould damage. Dry Methods for Surface Cleaning of Paper was done on those items which required cleaning in December 2001 by Francine Godbout.

Immediate source of acquisition

The documents were donated in five accruals; in 1992 and 1996 by W.N. Coburn, nephew of the painter, in 2016 by Evelyn Coburn, and in 2013 and 2018 by Teresa Coburn, Coburn's great-niece.


Language of material

  • English
  • French
  • German

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Most of the documents are in English, some in French and German.

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No further accruals are expected.

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Finding aid prepared using Rules for Archival Description (RAD).


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New material was processed and added to the fonds by Courtney Morrison, archival intern, under the supervision of Jody Robinson, in 2014 courtesy of funding from Canadian Heritage, and in 2018 by Jazmine Aldrich, archival intern, courtesy of funding from Canadian Heritage.

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