Canadian (born in England), 1873–1932
Lake O'Hara, 1925
oil on hardboard
22.2 x 27.4 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift from the Estate of Arnold O. Brigden
The eldest member of the Group of Seven, J.E.H. MacDonald did not project the woodsman temperament that some of the other members did. His art and personality bespoke a romantic sensibility, resting with poetic repose in nature. Even before the Group formally coalesced in 1920, MacDonald expressed a desire to twin the artistic exploration of Canadian wilderness with that of a new painting language. His perspective was something unique to the picturesque academic style that had previously dominated much landscape painting in Canada. He was adamant that, in depicting landscape, an artist must strive to show an inner feeling for nature, not just an outward form. In this WAG sketch the jagged mountains that surround British Columbia’s Lake O’Hara are like a fortress that almost blocks out the sky entirely. While small in scale, with its arrangement of forms, MacDonald’s sketch succeeds in conveying the dwarfing immensity and grandeur of the Canadian Rockies.