Paintings by The Group of Seven, plein air painters active around Toronto in the early 20th century, will be presented in a traveling exhibition that opens at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London on October 19, 2011 (through January 8, 2012)
One of the first institutions to collect and celebrate the Group of Seven was the McMichael Collection in Toronto (www.mcmichael.com). According to their website, “In the early days of the twentieth century, circumstances brought together several artists who were committed to exploring, through art, the unique character of the Canadian landscape. Collectively they agreed: Canadian rugged wilderness regions needed to be recorded in a distinctive painting style. This style would break from European traditions and reflect an increasingly nationalistic sentiment.”
The original members of the group, Tom Thompson, J.E.H. MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, Frederick Varlety, Frank Johnston, and Franklin Carmichael met as employees of a design firm in Toronto, and they were joined by A.Y. Jackson and Lawren Harris. They received financial support from Harris (heir to the Massey-Harris farm machinery fortune) and Dr. James McCallum. MacCallum owned land on Georgian Bay and Thomson worked as a guide in nearbyAlgonquin Park, so those became the primary painting locations for the artists’ outdoor painting activities. After serving in World War I, the members of the group joined together again, but Thompson died in 1917 before the first exhibition that identified the members as the Group of Seven.
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