F. B. Housser, “Signs of Revolt”, A Canadian Art Movement: The Story of the Group of Seven, 1926

[ Woods in Winter ]

Woods in Winter, Tom Thomson, 1917, Tom Thomson Art Gallery Permanent Collection, Oil on wood. 13 x 18 cm. Gift of Louise (Thomson) Henry, sister of Tom Thomson


The first hint the public received that a movement was awakening in the country came at the 1912 exhibition of the O.S.A. in Toronto. […]

The stage for this exhibition was set beforehand by two unusually dull shows of the conventional type. A loan collection had opened the season where was displayed the opulence and taste of those individuals in the country considered by themselves and the public as the most important representatives of Canadian culture. As far as we can learn, there was not a single Canadian landscape. There were Dutch windmills, German forests, English duchesses, feudal castles, Venetian canals, and still-lives of fruit and old brass kettles; — nowhere a snake fence, a Quebec steeple, a northern beaver dam, a touch of Canadian autumn, nor a whiff of the north. Canadian opulence bought pictures as it bought stocks, bonds, rugs or antiques.

The exhibition which followed was a show by the Royal Canadian Academy. It seems to have been an echo of the one before it. Bridle says it was “a highly instructive and perfectly dignified collection of canvases possessing somewhat the same interest as might be excited in rummaging through a book of old prints with here and there modern photograph. – But” – he exclaims, — "It is not modern Canada… A visitor to this show would not be seized with the feeling that Canadian painters had got far beyond their tacit homage to the old masters who painted before Canada was discovered by the white men.”*


*Canadian Courier

Source: F. B. Housser, ""Signs of Revolt", in A Canadian Art Movement" in A Canadian Art Movement: The Story of the Group of Seven, (Toronto: Macmillan Company of Canada, 1926), 44-45. Notes: Chapter III

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