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Daily Archives: July 28, 2013

Group of Seven … or is that ten?

English: Six of the Group of Seven, plus their... Six of the Group of Seven, plus their friend Barker Fairley, in 1920. From left to right: Frederick Varley, A. Y. Jackson, Lawren Harris, Fairley, Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer, and J. E. H. MacDonald. It was taken at The Arts and Letters Club of Toronto. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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I’ve been busy putting together posts about Canadian painters, as you’ve seen.  As promised, my “pièce de résistance” is the Group of Seven.  Today’s post is of the group as a whole.  In the next few days, I will post about the artists themselves.

They were a band of Canadian landscape painters, during the 1920 to 1933 years.

The original seven painters consisted of:

  1. Franklin Carmichael
  2. Lawren Harris
  3. A.Y. Jackson
  4. Frank Johnston
  5. Arthur Lismer
  6. J.E.H. MacDonald
  7. Frederick Varley

Later, A.J. Casson was invited to join the group in 1926; Edwin Holgate became a member in 1930; and LeMoine Fitzgerald joined in 1932.

Emily Carr was working closely with the group, but was never an official member.  The other famous painter often associated with the group is Tom Thomson.  Thomson was an inspiration for many of the group, but he died before the group became official.

Thomson, MacDonald, Lismer, Varley, Johnston, and Carmichael  met one another while  working for the design firm Grip Ltd, in Toronto.  In 1913, A.Y. Jackson and Lawren Harris joined the group of artists.

Financial support came from Harris, and a Dr. James MacCallum.  Together they built a Studio Building in the Rosedale ravine in 1914.  MacCallum also land on Georgian Bay, near Algonquin Park, and these became a place where artists often met for inspiration.

Unfortunately, the group did separate during World War I.  Jackson and Varley were official war artists.  After the war, they met up again.  In 1919, they had decided to create an official group, and soon began calling themselves the Group of Seven.

By 1920, they held their first exhibition.  Some of the encouragement and support they received came from Eric Brown, who was the director of the National Gallery.  There were mixed reviews, but in short order they found fame and recognition.

After Frank Johnston left the group in 1926, A.J. Casson became a new member.  When J.E.H. MacDonald died in 1932, the group announced that they had disbanded.  A new association was formed, to be known as the Canadian Group of Painters.

Six members of the group, along with four of the artists’ wives, are buried at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in a small patch of consecrated land, which is bordered by trees.  They are A.Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer, Frederick Varley, Lawren Harris, Frank Johnston, and A.J. Casson.

The National Gallery of Canada compiled a retrospective show of the group in 1995.  The Canadian rock band Rheostatics were commissioned to write a musical score for it.  You can find that music on their album, “Music inspired by the Group of Seven.”

I suppose that some of the criticisms of their art was that they would paint areas seemingly untouched by humans, but in fact these same places were habituated for many years.  Personally, I do not care about this, I think their paintings are beautiful and that is what art is about.  Isn’t it?

You can find the Group of Seven’s large collections at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto, Ontario), the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario) and at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Kleinburg, Ontario).

Some of the recognition they received were:  Canada Post issued “The Group of Seven” stamps on September 18, 1970.  Canada Post issued stamps,each depicting, art from all ten members on June 29, 1995.  The Royal Canadian Mint issued 7 pure silver coins, each one depicting each artists’ works, in 2012-2013.

If you would still like to learn more, I recommend the CBC Archives, and the Canadian Encyclopedia.

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“But Daddyyy ….!”

On July 28, 1819:

English: Richard John Uniacke Source: Archives...

Richard John Uniacke was tried for murder as the result of a duel. He was led into court by his father who was Attorney-General of Nova Scotia.

 

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The Speed, However, Did Impress Them!

Count Frontenac, first came to Canada as governor in 1672.

English: Map of Lac de Frontenac (Lake Ontario...

English: Map of Lac de Frontenac (Lake Ontario), showing Teiaiagon and Lac Taronto, and the land occupied by the Mississaugas and the Algonquin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His biggest problem apart from the intrigues among the civil servants at Quebec and Montreal, was to keep the Iroquois under control.  The French were inclined to treat them with contempt, and there is a French word “Iroquois” that means a boor, peasant, or clown.  it was not an accurate description of a proud race whose discipline and strategy in war can be admired even today.

In June 1673, Frontenac set out from Quebec to survey his domain, and to build a fort where Lake Ontario flowed into the St. Lawrence.  The 185-mile trip to Montreal was not too difficult.  Then came the hard task of transporting 400 men and supplies up the river to Lake Ontario.  Frontenac had two flat-bottomed boats built at Montreal on which were loaded the equipment and canon for the fort.  The men travelled in 120 canoes, taking turns dragging the flat-bottomed boats against the current.  Getting through the rapids was back-breaking.  The men pulling the boats had to wade along the shore, sometimes up to their necks in water.

Meanwhile, Frontenac had sent La Salle ahead to call a conference of Iroquois.  The historic meeting took place where Kingston, Ontario, now stands.  Frontenac put on a great show to impress the Indians.  Sixty chiefs were invited to his tents, which they reached by passing through a double rank of soldiers.  Frontenac spoke to them through an interpreter.  The evil days of strife were ended, he said, and the Indians’ enemies from then on would be France’s enemies.  He was building a fort so that the Indians would not have to go all the way to Montreal to trade.  The Iroquois took it all with a grain of salt.  They could make better trade deals with the English and the Dutch in the heart of their own territory.

What did impress them was the speed with which the French built the fort.  It was ready by July 28, 1673, obviously impregnable to attack.  Frontenac, who was anything but modest, called it “Fort Frontenac,” and raised over it the fleur-de-lis of France.

If you would like to read more about Frontenac and today’s post, I suggest the Historical Narratives of Early Canada, and the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

 

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