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Harris, Lawren Stewart
Lismer Lake, Algoma Lismer Lake, Algoma
c. 1920 c. 1920

Algoma District was the landscape around which the artistic Group of Seven coalesced, after Algonquin Park and the death of Tom Thomson. After first travelling to Algoma with ophthalmologist and arts patron James MacCallum in 1918, Lawren Harris initiated sketching trips with variously AY Jackson, Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer and JEH MacDonald. They travelled on the Algoma Central Railway in a rented boxcar that was outfitted and parked in the landscape for the purpose. There were seven trips in total, the last in 1924. The artists came together, with Franklin Carmichael and FH Varley also joining them, to exhibit for the first time as the Group of Seven in May 1920.

Bright and breezy with touches of gold in the distance, Lismer Lake, Algoma was likely painted in autumn 1919, 1920 or 1921. Exposed orange-brown underpaint (signature Harris) fringes the landscape features, enhancing the vista’s warm earthiness. Harris did several Algoma paintings of similar subject and composition: an island shoreline viewed from water with trees reaching beyond the picture plane.

Lismer Lake was an “insider” name. As Jackson wrote in his 1958 autobiography A Painter’s Country, “Since this country was on the height of land, there were dozens of lakes, many of them not on the map. For identification purposes we gave them names. The bright sparkling lakes we named after people we admired like Thomson and MacCallum; to the swampy ones, all messed up with moose tracks, we gave the names of the critics who disparaged us.”

 
Harris, Lawren Stewart
Brantford ON 1885–Vancouver BC 1970 Brantford ON 1885–Vancouver BC 1970
Lismer Lake, Algoma Lismer Lake, Algoma
c. 1920 c. 1920
Oil on wood panel Oil on wood panel
26.8 x 35.0 cm
Gift in memory of Ada Schwengers McGeer, 2020 Gift in memory of Ada Schwengers McGeer, 2020
63-007.02

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