The Canadian painters called The Group of Seven actually had eleven members. (Wilhelm says it has something about their being on the metric system up there.) However many of them there are, they were all brilliant and prolific painters whether they chose to paint portraits, gardens, the city, the wilderness, the plains, the Rockies, the far north, or anything else in Canada. They bring the country to life for me and they will for you when you see the 400 or so illustrations of their work in this book.
The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson is written/editd by David Silcox, an art historian, managing director of Sotheby's Canada, and a senior fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto. The artists in The Group (with the exception of A Y Jackson who was off painting in Georgian Bay) met in the Queen's Park, Toronto, mansion of Lawren Harris one March night in 1920, and recognizing the similarities in their work and their philosophy of art, they gave themselves the name by which we know them.
Informal photos of these men painting in their studios or en plein air show men who appear to be between about 30 and 50, all of them wearing a dress shirt and tie, if not also a vest and a suit jacket. What a very different world they lived and worked in. It is believed that Harris and J E H MacDonald chose the men to invite in those days when a major exhibit of Tom Thomson's work at the Art Gallery of Toronto had just closed.
All were deeply influenced by Thomson. In a book about the Seven published in 1964, The Story of the Group of Seven, Lauren Harris said,
I have, in my story of the Group, included Tom Thomson as a working member, although the name of the group did not originate until after his death. Tom Thomson was, nevertheless, as vital to the movement, as much a part of its formation and development, as any other member.
Their philosophy was that European artists or paintings in the European style did notsuitably convey the nature of their country. Canada was "a young country that wanted to express its own identity," says Silcox. "They were socially responsible, serious, fervent, egalitarian, and sensitive to the concerns of ordinary worrking people."
The artists described in this book are Tom Thomson, Lawren Harris, J E H MacDonald, A Y Jackson, Arthur Lismer, F H Varley, Frank Carmichael, Frank Johnston, A J Casson, Edwin Holgate, and LeMoine FitzGerald.