Canadian History for Kids!
Sketches of Canada for May 7th!

Canadian History for Kids: The Group of Seven

May 7, 1920 – Painting – Art Gallery of Ontario opens exhibition titled The Group of Seven.

This Canadian History for Kids exclusive, looks at the amazing Canadian artists, The Group of Seven.

A group of Canadian artists, who were stimulated by the Canadian wilderness and scenery, opened an exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario, May 7, 1920.

Many of the artists who formed the Group of Seven, worked at a commercial design firms in their early careers. 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.

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.

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.

But over the next decade 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.

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.”

Paintings by members of the Group of Seven can be found in most Canadian public art galleries with notable collections at the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, exclusive!

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