In this jewel-toned watercolour, A.J. Casson uses strategic strokes of blues and reds to punctuate a landscape composed primarily of greens and yellows. Completed just before Casson officially became a member of the Group of Seven and the same year Casson helped found the still-extant Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour, this painting reflects his independent spirit and distinct interpretation of the land. Importantly, Casson was integral to elevating the medium of watercolour and this rich landscape is indicative of Casson’s brilliant engagement with the medium to produce works that reflected not just the Canadian landscape, but a modern identity for Canada. In this work, Casson’s artistic style retains a sense of simplification and more muted colors than other members of the Group of Seven.
|Medium||Works on paper|
|Provenance||Private Collection, Vancouver.|
A.J. Casson is best known for using clear colours and simplified compositions to portray the Canadian landscape, revitalizing the medium of watercolour in the process. The last member to join the iconic Group of Seven, Alfred Casson helped to create a national art movement that created a uniquely Canadian visual style and approach to landscape painting. Casson was born in 1898 in Toronto. After studying at Hamilton and Toronto, Casson got his first “real” job in 1919 at a Toronto commercial art firm as Franklin Carmichael’s apprentice. Carmichael would later invite Casson to join the Group of Seven in 1926. The Group of Seven is mainly known for its landscapes of the Ontario northland, Algonquin Par, and the Algoma region around Lake Superior. The Group was centered in Toronto but most of the members traveled widely in Canada and produced images from every region. Countering Romantic landscapes with realistic, muted tones and an emphasis on hazy atmospheric perspective of their predecessors, the Group created a distinctive visual painting style known for rich colors and abstracted representations of nature that broke with the European tradition of realistic landscape painting. This national identity was evoked through richly saturated and Impressionistic depictions of unoccupied Canadian territory that was incredibly influential.
A.J. Casson was a prominent member of Canada’s artistic community. In 1925, he co-founded the still extant Canadian Society of Watercolour. Casson also served as the president of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (1948-52), the Ontario Society of Artists (1941-44) and served on several boards, including the Art Gallery of Toronto (1955-59). After the ending of the Group of Seven, Casson co-founded the Canadian Group of Painters in 1933. He “retired” in 1957 at age 60 but continued to paint full time. A.J. Casson died in 1992 at age 94 and is buried on the grounds of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, along with six other Group of Seven members.
His works are held in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottaway, Dalhousie University Art Gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia, MacKenzie Art Gallery in Saskatchewan, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Ontario, and the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery in Alberta, Canada.