Friday, 16 May 2014


WILDERNESS LAKE WITH CLOUDS, Homage to AJ Casson by Sea Dean

Alfred Joseph Casson, OC was born on May 17, 1898. He is best known for paintings of landscapes, forests and farms of southern Ontario and for being the youngest member of the Group of Seven. 

His first public exhibition was at the Canadian National Exhibition, in 1917. In the early part of the 20th century it was still very important to be a member of a recognized art society and so A. J. Casson belonged to many. Franklin Carmichael introduced him to The Arts and Letters Club of Toronto, where he met well-known artists incuding Group of Seven members. In 1925 along with Carmichael and F.H. Brigden, he founded the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour.

In 1926 Carmichael invited Alfred to become a member of the Group of Seven and ironically, in the same year, he also became an Associate Member of the ultra conservative Royal Canadian Academy. In 1933, when the Group of Seven concluded, he co-founded the Canadian Group of Painters and several members of the Group of Seven followed, including Lawren Harris, Arthur Lismer, A. Y. Jackson and his mentor Franklin Carmichael.

Most of his life, Casson painted part-time, providing for his widowed mother and later his wife, by holding down a day job. He retired in 1957 at the age of 59, to paint full time.

A. J. Casson developed a style with clear colours and background designs. He loved to paint windblown skies and his peers jokingly called a blustery sky a Casson Sky. He also has a lake named after him in Ontario. One of his paintings appeared on the Antiques Road Show in 2008. Watch it here.

He died in 1992 at the age of 94 and is buried in the grounds of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, along with six other Group of Seven members.

The Group of Seven — sometimes known as the Algonquin school — was a group of Canadian landscape painters from 1920 to 1933, originally consisting o:-

Franklin Carmichael (1890–1945),
Lawren Harris (1885–1970),
A. Y. Jackson (1882–1972),
Frank Johnston (1888–1949),
Arthur Lismer (1885–1969),
J. E. H. MacDonald (1873–1932), and
Frederick Varley (1881–1969). Later,
A. J. Casson (1898–1992) was invited to join in 1926;
Edwin Holgate (1892–1977) became a member in 1930; and
LeMoine Fitzgerald (1890–1956) joined in 1932.

Cat # 14095 Wilderness Lake with Clouds