Canadian History for Kids!
Sketches of Canada for May 7th!
A group of Canadian artists, who were inspired by the Canadian wilderness and landscape, opened an exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario, May 7, 1920. The name of the exhibit was ‘The Group of Seven”. This Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada, looks at the amazing careers of the Group of Seven, Canada’s most famous artists.
Many of the artists who formed the Group of Seven were employed at commercial design firms in their early careers. This Canadian History for Kids article starts when Tom Thomson, J.E.H. MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, Frederick Varley, Frank Johnston, and Franklin Carmichael first met and discovered their common interests while working at Grip Ltd. in Toronto. The men began to take weekend sketching trips together and often gathered at the Arts and Letters Club in Toronto. It was there that they discussed possible new directions for Canadian art.
This Canadian History for Kids article continues in 1913, Lawren Harris convinced A.Y. Jackson to move to Toronto from Montreal. In that same year, Lawren Harris and J.E.H. MacDonald visited the Albright Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York to view an exhibition of Scandinavian paintings. This show was truly inspirational to the men. They were determined to create a unique Canadian style.
This Canadian History for Kids article continues in 1920, Harris, MacDonald, Lismer, Varley, Johnston, Carmichael and Jackson decided, for the first time, to exhibit together as the Group of Seven. The exhibition was not seen as a success initially. Only 3 of over 100 pieces sold at the exhibit. At this time many people considered the Canadian landscape ugly and unworthy of being painted. They were proved wrong however over the next decade by the Group of Seven. The group became known as pioneers to a new Canadian art, finding new and different ways to portray the beauty of the landscapes.
Tom Thompson, who is often thought to be Canada’s greatest artist, was not a member of the Group of Seven. Thompson, who was the inspiration leader of the group, had died mysteriously in Algonquin Park in 1917.
This Canadian History for Kids article continues when Frank Johnston left the group in 1920 to move to Winnipeg, A. J. Casson was invited to join in 1926. Edwin Holgate became a member in 1930; and LeMoine Fitzgerald joined in 1932. And it wasn’t until six years after the Group’s initial show that Emily Carr, the female artist so famously associated with the Group, first met Lawren Harris, who famously declared Carr to be “One of us.”
Group of Seven artwork is in great demand even today. Recently a man purchased two oil paintings at a garage sale in Vancouver for $100. The paintings were by Tom Thompson and Frederick Varley. The estimated value of the 2 paintings is between $250,000-$300,000!
And that’s this week Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada.