10 Things to Know About the Group of Seven

1. The Group of Seven was formed in 1920 and originally consisted of the artists Franklin Carmichael (1890-1945), Lawren Harris (1885-1970), A.Y. Jackson (1882-1974), Frank Johnston (1888-1949), Arthur Lismer (1885-1969), J.E.H. MacDonald (1873-1932) and Frederick Varley (1881-1969).

2. Emily Carr (1871-1945), Tom Thomson (1877-1917) and David Milne were also closely associated with the group, but never officially considered its members.

3. The members met each other in Toronto between 1911 and 1913. Although the informal group disbanded during the war years 1914-1918, they reconvened in 1919 and began calling themselves the Group of Seven.

4. The Group of Seven held their first exhibition in 1920 at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario), and henceforth became known for their landscapes, and identified themselves as landscape painters.

5. Widely considered to be some of the most important Canadian artists in the early 20th century, the Group was an organization of self-proclaimed modern artists, pioneers to a new Canadian art movement that rallied against the conservatism of the time.

6. The artists were inspired by the Canadian landscape, believing that a national artform could develop from direct contact with nature, and by eschewing the need for naturalism, painting instead the expression of their feelings.

7. During the post-war years, the seven members travelled, first throughout Ontario, then across to British Columbia, in search of landscapes to paint.

8. Between 1926 and 1932, new members were invited to join the group, including A.J. Casson, Edwin Holgate and LeMoine FitzGerald.

9. The Group of Seven was widely successful with exhibitions throughout Canada and in England. By 1932, with the influence of their art at a zenith, they disbanded. In its place, the Canadian Group of Painters was formed and held its first exhibition in 1933. The Canadian Group endured with much success until 1967.

10. The Group of Seven has been commemorated not only in numerous retrospective exhibitions in Canada, but also has had stamps issued by Canada Post (1970 and 1995) and special-edition coins minted by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2012.

Featured image: J.E.H. MacDonald (Canadian, born United Kingdom, 1873-1932) | Above Olsa Mill | 1929 | Oil on panel | Harold and Vera Mortimer-Lamb Fund (1979.326.001)