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the Group of Seven (Canadian Artists)
had commenced our great adventure. We lived in a continuous
blaze of enthusiasm. We were at times very serious and concerned,
at other times hilarious and carefree. Above all, we loved
this country and loved exploring and painting it."
S. Harris (*1)
Brief Introduction and History
of the Group of Seven Artists began in the early 1900s when
several Canadian Artists began noticing a similarity in style.
Canadian Painters Tom Thomson, J.E.H. MacDonald, Arthur Lismer,
Frederick Varley, Frank Johnston and Franklin Carmichael were
often believed to have socialized together through common
interests and mutual employment. One particular venue, the
Arts and Letters Club in Toronto, served as a common meeting
place for the artists.
Jackson later joined them around 1913. About the same time,
Dr. James MacCallum and another artist by the name of Lawren
S. Harris came into the picture and money was raised to build
the historic Studio Building for Canadian Art in Toronto.
During the spring of 1917, tragedy struck the group as Tom
Thomson drowned in Algonquin Park's Canoe Lake. This tragedy
shocked the Group, and questions were raised about the suspicious
circumstances surrounding the drowning. The first World War
had also interrupted the group's focus on art.
the group put on their first exhibit and formerly called themselves
the Group of Seven. The artists included were J.E.H. MacDonald,
Franklin Carmichael, Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer, Lawren
S. Harris, Frederick Varley and A.Y. Jackson.
the 1920s, the group established itself as uniquely Canadian
in style. As their popularity grew, the group began travelling
across Canada, a task not taken to lightly in those early
days. They are historically recognized as the first group
of European descent to capture the feel of the Arctic on canvas.
final joint exhibition was in December 1931. In 1932, MacDonald
died and the group disbanded. In their wake rose a new group
called the Canadian Group of Artists, of which Group of Seven
members included painters Harris, Casson, Lismer, Jackson,
and Carmichael. The C. G. P. held their first formal exhibit
in November 1933.
Group of Painters are historically recognized as having a
significant impact on the Canadian Art movement and forever
changed the style and spirit of Canadian Art, as did the Group
1 Lawren Harris, quoted in Peter
Mellen The Group of Seven (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart
1970), p. 112