ArtworksA.Y. JacksonMontreal River, Algoma, 19191882-1974Sold
Inscriptionssigned, ‘A.Y. JACKSON’ (lower right); inscribed by the artist, ‘Montreal River, Algoma / A Y Jackson’ (verso, upper centre); inscribed by the artist, ‘A.Y. Jackson / 1919 / STUDIO BLDG / SEVERN ST. / TORONTO (verso, centre)
Galerie Walter Klinkhoff Inc., Montreal;
Acquired from the above by Mitzi and Mel Dobrin.
A native Montrealer, A.Y. Jackson met the future members of Toronto’s Group of Seven when Lawren Harris bought Jackson’s Edge of the Maple Wood in 1913. Having moved to Toronto, he obtained a studio with Tom Thomson in the newly constructed Studio Building and, on Thomson’s recommendation, he painted in Algonquin Park in 1914, returning to Montreal in December following the outbreak of war. The following summer he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, leaving for England in the fall and was wounded at Maple Copse in June 1916. The following year he was engaged to paint for the Canadian War Records. Finally discharged, Jackson returned to Toronto in the spring of 1919.
Lawren Harris had been the first to paint along the Algoma Central Railway, north of Sault Sainte Marie, in the spring of 1918 following his discharge from the army. That fall he was accompanied by J.E.H. MacDonald and Frank Johnston and in September 1919 Jackson joined his fellow artists. From a siding at Hubert, Jackson wrote to his cousin Florence Clement on 29 September, “From a hill nearby one can look over miles of primeval forest, not a clearing in any direction. Here and there is a beaver meadow, but rough stuff. They seem to be big tough guys and delight in making the country look like hell. They fell trees over a foot through and leave them lying all over the place, or they take all the bark off round the roots, and leave the tree dead standing up. We haven’t seen a moose yet, although the place is full of them. I generally get near a tree I can climb when sketching, one feels more comfortable. ... The color is disappearing very fast. The reds were gorgeous when we first came, but now it is all orange and yellow. ... In spite of the bad weather, two sunny days in the twelve we have been here, we have done a lot of work, got soaked pretty often too ... when I get back you will have to come to the studio and see the country in sketches. I have some which I have to look at twice myself to tell if they are right side up.”
Beaver are very present in the artists’ paintings from this trip. J.E.H. MacDonald painted his sketch (Faculty Club, University of Toronto) for his canvas The Beaver Dam (Art Gallery of Ontario) on Montreal Lake, and Jackson painted Beaver Pond in Autumn (McMichael Canadian Art Collection) and Beaver Dam, Hubert (National Gallery of Canada), both characterized by the same dense foliage seen in Montreal River, Algoma. Through a thicket of greens, yellows, oranges, reds and browns, the blues of the river, sky and distant hills slowly emerge. Finally able to paint full time and further his exploration of the Canadian landscape, Jackson experimented boldly with a new vividness of colour and design.
Charles C. Hill