Born in Brantford, Ontario, into a wealthy, [conservative, and religious] family, co-founders of the Massey-Harris farm-machinery company, [Lawren Harris enjoyed many privileges]. Freed from the necessity of making a living, he could concentrate on his painting [and, at the age of nineteen, travelled toGermanyStudio Building in Toronto , providing artists with [a place to] live and work. [This allowed the artists to work together and share ideas, thus bringing them together.] In addition, Harris organized the first of the famed boxcar trips to Algoma. Fellow group member A.Y. Jackson claimed: "Without Harris there would have been no Group of Seven. He provided the stimulus; it was he who encouraged us to always take the bolder course, to find new trails." where he studied for three years. Apart from his travels,] [h]is financial independence allowed him to make several important and practical contributions to the development of the Group [of Seven]. In 1913, with his friend Dr. James MacCallum, he financed the construction of the still existing

In 1921, Harris and Jackson went to the North Shore of Lake Superior where Harris [encountered] a stark and bare landscape well suited to the new direction in his art, sparked by his interest in Theosophy and his search for a deeper spiritual meaning. In his life and in his painting Harris displayed an inclination toward the intellectual and the spiritual. [He was] fascinated by the Theosophical concept of an essential and universal truth and oneness of all nature. He wrote:

The artist moves slowly but surely through many transitions toward a deeper and more universal expression. From his particular love, and in the process of creating from it, he is led inevitably to universal qualities and toward a universal vision and understanding.1

The last half of his painting career was devoted to an exploration of the abstract based on his beliefs. Harris died in 1970 and was buried among other Group of Seven artists in a cemetery on the grounds of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.2

1Bess Harris and R. G. P. Colgrove, eds., Lawren Harris (Toronto: Macmillan, 1969) 39.

2 Megan Bice, "Lawren Harris," The McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Kleinburg: The McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 1989) 49.


Megan Bice, Bess Harris and R.G.P. Colgrove

© 2006, McMichael Canadian Art Collection. All Rights Reserved.

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