Artworks and Artists
J.E.H. MacDonald
Born in Durham, England, 12 May 1873
Died in Toronto, Ontario, 26 November 1932
Collection of the Library and Archives, National Gallery of Canada

J.E.H. MacDonald

James Edward Hervey MacDonald was born in Durham, England, in 1873, emigrating at the age of thirteen with his family to Hamilton, Ontario. After studying briefly at the Hamilton Art School, he moved to Toronto. He worked as an apprentice at the Toronto Lithography Company and in 1895 joined Grip Limited, where he later became senior designer. Around 1911 MacDonald met Lawren Harris at the Arts and Letters Club. Together they developed their ideas of creating a distinctly Canadian style of painting that would embrace the character and ruggedness of the country. Their ambitions were fuelled by an exhibition of contemporary Scandinavian painting that they saw in Buffalo in 1913. In the show's northern subjects of wilderness terrain and snow, they found a confirmation of their commitment to an art rooted in one's native soil, as well as a visual language to explore their response to the Canadian landscape.