Gallery Archive & Biography

 

James Edward Hervey MacDonald (1873-1932)

Founder member of the Canadian Group of Seven

 

"Misty Morning - Petite Riviere N.S."


Old Dock, Petite Rivière, Nova Scotia (1922 )

Oil on Card, signed and Inscribed verso.

5 1/4"   x 4 1/8"

A very important work only recently discovered after 50 years and previously unrecorded.

This work was executed during a painting trip to Petite Riviere when  J.E.H. Mc Donald stayed with Lewis and Edith Smith in 1922.

This was the pr cursor to the painting of the same subject held at National Gallery in Ottawa & painted at the end of the Smiths garden.

Verso, signed and Inscribed.

Provenance with Messrs. Roberts Gallery Toronto.

 

 

Old Dock, Petite Rivière, Nova Scotia (1922 ) As held in National Gallery in Ottawa

J. E. H. MacDonald was the major force and inspiration in the formation of the Group of Seven.

 

Biographic:

 Born in Britain, he came to Canada at age thirteen, where he studied at the Hamilton Art School, Hamilton, Ontario.

McDonald worked as a commercial artist for Toronto Lithography Company and then Grip Ltd. After taking two years off to work as a book designer for Carleton, MacDonald became head designer at Grip.To those who did not know him well, he appeared to be a quiet and shy redhead of frail stature with the dreamy air of a poet and philosopher. Underneath, he was a practical man who had great strength of character and was respected by the other artists as a father figure. A transcendentalist who read Whitman and Thoreau, MacDonald believed that through nature, man reached a higher spiritual end. This he tried to show through his art.

In 1911, MacDonald moved his wife and family to Thornhill, Ontario, quit his job and began to paint full time. Here, he found inspiration from the surrounding countryside. In the next few years, his painting was to get a ‘boost' as he began to travel north - first to the Georgian Bay area and then to Algonquin Park.

The appeal of the North was very strong for both MacDonald and his good friend Tom Thomson. Thomson and MacDonald are considered to have had tremendous impact on each other's work. After Thomson's death in 1917, MacDonald suffered a physical collapse and possibly a stroke while working on the memorial cairn at Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park. He was bedridden for several months, but was well enough by the fall of 1918 to travel with Harris and Johnston on the first boxcar trip to Algoma.

In Algoma, MacDonald received his greatest inspiration. For the next five years, he entered his most productive phase of painting. Algoma became known as "MacDonald's country." Here, he created vital works such as Wild River.

While the Group of Seven was considered to be radical for its time, at age forty-seven when the Group formed, MacDonald could hardly be referred to as a "young radical."

In 1922, he began to teach at the Ontario College of Art and continued to paint. MacDonald continued to be a mainstay and stabilizing force for the members of the Group of Seven.


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