Friday, August 21, 2015

J. E. H. MacDonald

Falls, Montreal River
oil on canvas
153 x 121.9 cm   
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada

J.E.H. MacDonald (1873-1932) was the English born Canadian painter. He was born in England and migrated to Canada in 1887 as a teenager with his family. He constituted the driving force and inspiration in the formation of The Group of Seven, the landscape painters who brought the influence of modern European art to their depictions of northern Canada.

The Group of Seven was considered to be radical for its time. He held strong belief in the direction and ideals of art in Canada, and often found himself spokesman for the new artistic movement. As a founding member of the Group of Seven, he challenged and vastly broadened the scope of Canadian art. He believed that art should express the "mood and character and spirit of the country", and he portrayed his vision in vast panoramas using dark, rich colours and a turbulent, patterned style. Using the dramatic colours and simplified forms of the symbolists, he captured the splendours of Algonquin Park, as well as the Georgian Bay and Algoma regions. MacDonald, who was also a poet, was a disciple of Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau, whose works influenced both his writing and his painting. His works hang in every major museum across Canada including the National Gallery of Canada.