September 24, 2015, KLEINBURG ON—Christmas greeting cards are widely recognized as a form of gift giving and spreading holiday cheer, combining inspirational imagery with heartfelt messages. To celebrate the art of Christmas cards, designed by seminal Canadian artists of the mid-twentieth century, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection presents the exhibition This House Was Made for Christmas, on display from October 3, 2015 to January 31, 2016. Visitors will be given the rare opportunity to see works of art in greeting cards, some of which have never been displayed before, drawn from the McMichael art and archival collections as well as other public and private holdings.

Several members of the Group of Seven and their contemporaries as well as some members of Painters Eleven including Jack Bush and Harold Town, are represented in this exhibition. While many cards are representative of each artist’s fine art practice, others reflect rare personal imagery that was meant for private viewership amongst family, friends, and colleagues.


The exchange of commercially printed holiday cards dates back to nineteenth century England and continues today. This custom allowed people to remember family and friends during a special time of year, and affix their best wishes on paper through word and image. In time, artists were commissioned to design cards that allowed them to share and promote their work with the public.


“This show provides a uniquely focused look at the practice of card designs that mirrors the development of Canadian art in Toronto during the twentieth century,” said exhibition curator, Sharona Adamowicz-Clements, McMichael Assistant Curator, Collections. “These cards demonstrate the important role that commercial work and printmaking had on the careers of many Canadian artists, who were able to promote their work by way of their printing practice.”


Reflecting an array of styles in text and imagery, from traditional holiday images to religious and historical motifs, this exhibition appeals to everyone. The nostalgic adult can reminisce about the past looking at vintage cards; the inquisitive learner interested in design can learn about different printing techniques; and a child can experience the magic of the season by viewing cards depicting iconic holiday themes.


The inspiration for this exhibition stems from Pierre Berton’s 1956 article “The House That Was Made for Christmas” (Canadian Homes and Gardens magazine), which featured the foundation for the McMichael gallery – the actual home of founders Robert and Signe McMichael, with its log walls and fieldstone fireplace – as a special place of Christmas spirit. With the first gallery of this exhibition situated in one of the original rooms of the McMichael home, where the founders celebrated Christmas, this show will reflect on the gallery’s tradition of homeliness and neighbourly gathering for holiday joy. Still today, during the winter months, the McMichael is nestled in a sprawling landscape of snow-covered trees – a picture-perfect symbol of Christmas.

About the McMichael Canadian Art Collection

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an agency of the Government of Ontario and acknowledges the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and the McMichael Canadian Art Foundation. It is the foremost venue in the country showcasing the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. In addition to touring exhibitions, its permanent collection consists of almost 6,000 artworks by Canadian artists, including paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, as well as First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists. The gallery is located on 100 acres of northern landscape and hiking trails at 10365 Islington Avenue, Kleinburg, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in the City of Vaughan. For more


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