Portrait of an Art Collector, Dr. Lillian Malcove

In 2005, Dawn Cain and Elisa Coish, former curator and assistant curator of the Malcove Collection at the University of Toronto, initiated a research project to learn more about art collector and benefactor Dr. Lillian Malcove (1902-1981). It was nearing the 25th anniversary of her bequest, and a cardboard box of Malcove’s personal effects had recently arrived at the university. These materials were sent from New York by Dr. Mary Mercer, a dear friend of Lillian’s who was then in her early 90s. She had been given the box when Lillian died, and the contents included photo albums, personal letters, newspaper clippings, invoices for artworks, and her appointment agenda. Such documents permit one to witness moments of Malcove’s life, which she appears to have lived joyfully and well.

In April 2006, an interview with Mary Mercer was filmed in New York, and sessions with other acquaintances, colleagues, and family members followed, forming the beginnings of what we hope will one day become a documentary film about Lillian Malcove. The ongoing project has been undertaken on a volunteer basis by Cain and Coish, with the support of the University of Toronto Art Museum and several private individuals.