“A Like Vision”:
The Group of Seven at 100
January 25, 2020 – August 21, 2022
A Centenary Celebration of the Group of Seven
Lawren S. Harris (1885-1970)
Montreal River, c. 1920
oil on paperboard, 27 x 34.7 cm
Gift of the Founders, Robert and Signe McMichael
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
On May 7, 1920, a group of artists calling themselves the Group of Seven mounted their first formal exhibition at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario). Approximately 2000 visitors passed through the doors during the exhibition’s three-week run. Of the more than 120 paintings on view, only six sold. “Seven Painters Show Some Excellent Work” read the headline in Toronto’s Daily Star newspaper, reflecting the moderate opinion of most critics. In a letter to his mother, painter A.Y. Jackson wrote that the exhibition was “attracting quite a lot of attention even if it is not understood.”
The group of seven artists whose pictures are here exhibited have for several years held a like vision concerning Art in Canada. They are all imbued with the idea that an Art must grow and flower in the land before the country will be a real home for its people.
– Exhibition catalogue, May 1920
In commemoration of the centenary of that first exhibition, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection will mount a landmark exhibition of the group’s finest pieces from the McMichael’s permanent collection entitled “A Like Vision”: The Group of Seven at 100. The exhibition of more than 280 artworks will span five galleries and include beloved masterpieces by every member of the Group, including Jackson’s haunting First Snow, Algoma (1919/20), Carmichael’s autumnal symphony October Gold (1922), and Lawren Harris’ magisterial Mount Robson (1929). Alongside these masterworks will be lesser-known pieces by the Group including a series of humorous and impressionistic sketches by Arthur Lismer, many depicting his fellow artists, and Lawren Harris’s unassuming Montreal River (c. 1920), the first work acquired by Robert and Signe McMichael in 1955.
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection, as it is known today, remains the spiritual home to the Group of Seven and a destination for all Canadians who cherish the artistic legacy of the country. The collection that grew out of the McMichaels’ personal devotion to Canadian art and their friendships with many Group members has grown to encompass a mandate to collect, protect and promote all of the art of Canada, but the original collection of work by the Group of Seven remains its foundational treasure.
“The Group of Seven not only translated what they saw into a vivid visual language of their own,” says Ian A.C. Dejardin, Executive Director of the McMichael, “but through that language they taught us to appreciate the natural beauty of Canada in all its vast scale and variety. Many Canadians continue to see the country through the Group’s eyes, and it is thrilling to have an occasion to share the breadth and richness of the McMichael’s collection with visitors on this seminal anniversary.”
“A Like Vision”: The Group of Seven at 100 is curated by McMichael Executive Director Ian A. C. Dejardin.
The exhibition has been financially assisted by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, a program of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, administered by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund Corporation. It is supported by Bolton Mills Retirement Community and the Group of Seven Circle of Supporters.