119 photographs : b&w and col. (43 tifs, 32 negatives, 1 slide) ; 41 x 51 cm or smaller and 300 dpi
Scope and Content
This accession includes forty-three black-and-white and colour portrait prints along with the accompanying digital images and some negatives. The sitters include nationally- and internationally-renowned entertainers, athletes, politicians, entrepreneurs, artists, and jurists. Individuals include: David Ben-Gurion, Dr. Charles Best, Conrad Black, A. J. Casson, John Diefenbaker, Gordie Howe, Yousuf Karsh, Betty Kennedy, Larry King, George Knudson, Jean Beliveau, Yehuda Menuhin, Lester Pearson, John Robarts, Sidney Robins, Peter Appleyard, Leona Boyd, George Cohon, David Crombie, Dizzy Gillespie, Dr. Bernie Goldman, Martin Luther King III, Murray Koffler, Moe Koffman, Eugene Levy, Edwin Mirvish, Raymond Moriyama, Frank Sinatra, Carl Schaeffer, Mandel Sprachman, Dr. Tile, Wayne and Shuster, Dr. Key, Joseph Biden, Matthew Teitlebaum, Guido Basso, Oscar Peterson, the director of the Department of Transportation in Maui, a man playing chess, and a diver in an aquarium.
Nathan Gittelmacher immigrated to Toronto from Kiev, Ukraine after the First World War. He first worked as a photographer at Empire Studios, and then in 1922, opened up his own studio, Elite Studios, at 615 Queen Street West. Many of Nathan’s portraits were produced with a large format view camera and from glass negatives.
During the 1940s, the family changed its name to Gilbert and subsequently altered the name of the business to Gilbert Studios. Nathan’s son, Albert, who was born 18 November 1922, started working in the family business in 1941, when he was 19 years old. He eventually assumed control of it after his father retired. He moved the studio to Eglington Avenue and then later to Davenport Road, its current location, in order to accommodate its growing clientele.
Al made a name for himself as a portrait photographer, using natural light in innovative ways to create more natural looking portraits. Al’s primary work involved producing portraits of families, weddings, bar mitzvahs, special events and dinners. Most of his early clients were from the Jewish community. In turn, he also was paid to produce portraits of local entrepreneurs, and his multi-year contract with the city, gave him sole responsibility for the production of portraits of the mayors and councilmen and women. He later branched out beyond the Jewish community, and began to produce images of businessmen and leaders from the Italian community in Toronto.
n addition to the paid contracts involving local personalities and groups, Al Gilbert has also produced many artistic portraits of local, national and international celebrities, artists and leaders such as: Wayne and Shuster, Howie Mandel, Oscar Peterson, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Robertson Davies, several Canadian prime ministers as well as Prince Charles, all of the Israeli prime ministers, which were made into stamps by the Israeli government, and finally, the last Pope. Gilbert’s work therefore captures a huge range of individuals from the ordinary bride to extraordinary world leaders.
Al has won many awards as well as accolades from his peers throughout his career. He is the three-time recipient of the prestigious Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) Photographer of the year honour. He has been named Fellow of the photographic societies in Canada, Britain and the United States. In 1990, he was awarded the Order of Canada and recently nominated for the Order of Ontario. In January 2007, the Professional Photographers of America presented him with their Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is the highest honor PPA can bestow on a person for their body of work and influence on professional photography.
Copyright is held by the Ontario Jewish Archives. Please contact the Archives to obtain permission prior to use.
File list is available here: S:\Appraisal\00 Monetary appraisals\CPERB\2007-12-17, Gilbert\2007-12-17 CPERB list.xls
Processed as Fonds 37, series 4.
USE CONDITION NOTE: Permission for use must be granted by Mr. Al Gilbert or his children. Attribution beneath Mr. Gilbert’s work to read: Al Gilbert C.M. or Portrait by Al Gilbert C.M. Reproduction Prints can only be made by Gilbert Studios under Mr. Gilbert’s direction. Mr. Gilbert’s work cannot be reproduced by any third party off these web sites or exhibits without permission. No cropping or alterations to the original image is allowed.