Object Name: Painting
Artist/Maker: Marcus, Isabel
Date of Object, From: 19200000 Later Than
Date of Object, To: 19880101 Prior To
Material: Paint, oil; Wood
Description: A winter setting. A river runs through the center of the image, in-between flat snowy land. The snowy land wraps curves into the foreground of the image. The horizon line is made up of trees. There are clouds in the sky.
Narrative: This painting is characteristic of Canadian landscape done in the first half of the twentieth century. Isabel Marcus, the artist, made this painting in a bold and loose style, and it is apparent that she went to school for art, or at the very least, practiced and studied the work of other artists. Isabel used a limited range of colours that makeup a greyish " lavender palate: blues, purples, whites, and greys. Isabel used the colour yellow, whether consciously or subconsciously, as a complementary colour to the purples. Complementary colours are direct opposites on the colour spectrum. In this painting, Isabel has depicted the LaHave River. Canadian landscape painting changed when a group of painters, famously known as the Group of Seven, made the environment a priority in their paintings, and gave reverence to the land through their artwork. The group was formed in resistance to other Canadian artwork that they felt was 'conservative' and 'imitative', more specifically, the majority of Canadian artwork was following European trends, and not creating a Canadian identity. The members met through working together at a design firm in Toronto, Grip Ltd, circa 1911-1913. Tom Thomson, J.E.H. MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, Frederick Varley, Frank Johnston, and Franklin Carmichael, were driven to create artworks that had a Canadian style. Through discussions, making art together, and going on trips into the wilderness, the group was able to form a style unique to Canada. The first Group of Seven show was in Toronto, 1920, three years after Tom Thomson's death. The members of the show were Lawren Harris, J.E.H. MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, Frederick Varley, Frank Johnston, Franklin Carmichael, and A.Y. Jackson. It changed how the Canadian landscape was painted and revered. Other members that joined at later dates include A.J. Casson, and Edwin Holgate. The group's period of activity occurred during 1920 to the early 1930s. The final group exhibition was in 1931. What was different about the Group of Seven's paintings? They focused more on the expression of their feelings and not just a direct translation of what there subject matter was—i.e. they didn't paint realistically. They looked to the Canadian wilderness in particular—most of their work was absent of human figures. Although their paintings portrayed subject matter that were recognizably elements of nature, they summarized nature with attention to colour, beauty, 'vastness', 'majesty', 'dignity', and 'grandeur'. The reduction of shapes to essentials, and the use of limited colour palates, created a presence in the artwork of something spiritual, or, a reduction of something complex, to something more refined and simplistic. Their techniques had not been seen in Canadian art yet. Although each artist in the group had certain tendencies, on a hole there were key choices that the artists made, as far as technique goes, that can be attributed to the group as a whole. Their early paintings had thick, impasto paint, with brush strokes that were placed on the canvas with attention to surface pattern. The way that they did this is considered an 'abstract view of colour and surface design.' The limited choices of colour palates, were often monochromatic—using one colour in different tones, or, were composed of complimentary colours, or, were just a specific selection of a small range of colours. Some of the earlier paintings are considered bright. Artwork does have its influences, even if a style is unique. The Group of Seven's influences were the symbolists and the post-impressionists. The Group of Seven's style is reflective in Isabel's painting. For example, she placed the yellow on the water boldly. It sits directly next to purples and blues. She has not painted all the tiny-tiny branches on the trees, but has reduced them to slender, and carefully bending trunks. The tree line in the background is not a direct representation of the trees, but a feeling of the tree line. The feeling is translated into colours and brushstrokes. On a whole the painting is an expression of the place.
Dimensions: 51 x 61 (cm) (ht x wi)
Institution: Fort Point Museum. LaHave, Nova Scotia
Accession Number: 88.09.01
Category: Communication Artifacts