The Aesthetic of the Northland

The good people at the Network in Canadian History & Environment (NiCHE) asked me to contribute an essay to a series marking the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Canadian landscape art collective, the Group of Seven. Fresh from a boat trip up eastern Georgian Bay, through many locales where members of the Group painted during and before its formation, I was happy to oblige.

A.Y. Jackson’s “unknown” landscape

I visited McMaster University's Museum of Fine Arts in February 2020, to view several early (pre World War I) works by A.Y. Jackson. One of them, Girl in the Middy, an oil sketch of Rosa Breithaupt, herself painting by the water's edge, contained a bonus painting on the obverse side: a landscape catalogued as "unknown" in subject matter. Jackson's fellow member of the Group of Seven, A.J. Casson, actually wrote (in ink!) on it: "The sketch on the reverse side could possibly be an early AY Jackson." That clearly seems to be the case. But what does it depict?

Losing Tom

After a promising interview with Lord Beaverbrook on his candidacy as a war artist, Private A.Y. Jackson returned to his base in August 1917 and shocking news: Tom Thomson was dead.

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