National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

Bulletin 23, 1974

Annual Index
Author & Subject

Nationalist Aspects of Lawren S. Harris's Aesthetics

by Peter Larisey

Pages  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  7 


1 Harriet Ford, "The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts," The Canadian Magazine, vol. III, no. 1 (May 1894), p. 48. See also: M. L. Fairbairn, " A Decade of Canadian Art," The Canadian Magazine, vol. XVII, no. 2 (June 1901), p. 159; T. G. Marquis, "The Art of Paul Wickson," The Canadian Magazine, vol. XXIII, no.1 (May 1904), p. 4; J .A. Radford, "Canadian Art and its Critics," The Canadian Magazine, vol. XXIX, no. 6 (October 1907), p. 516; Jean Graham, in the column "Woman's Sphere" "A Canadian Artist, The Canadian Magazine, vol. XXXI, no. 4 (August 1908), p. 374; H. Mortimer-Lamb, "The Art of Curtis Williamson, R. C. A.," The Canadian Magazine, vol. XXXII, no. 1 (November 1908), p.65.

2 J. A. Radford, "Art at the World's Fair," The Canadian Magazine, vol. II, no.2 (December 1893), p. 130.

3 T. G. Marquis, "The Art of Paul Wickson," The Canadian Magazine, vol. XXIII, no.1 (May 1904), p. 4. See also: W. A. Sherwood, A. R. C. A., "A National Spirit in Art," The Canadian Magazine, vol. III, no.6 (October 1894), p. 499; J. W. Beatty, A. R. C. A., "A Canadian Painter and his Work," vol. XXVI, no. 6 (April 1906), p. 547.

4 Anonymous, in the colurnn "The Front Window," "The Little Company of Eight," The Canadian Magazine, vol. XXX, no. 5 (March 1908), p. 481.

5 Ibid.

6 H. Mortimer-Lamb, "The Art of Curtis Williamson, R. C. A.," The Canadian Magazine, vol. XXXII, no. 1 (November 1908), p. 71.

However, the writers on art, and the artists themselves, were by no means the first Canadians to see special significance for Canada in the North. Carl Berger, in his essay, "The True North Strong and Free" (in Peter Russel, ed., Nationalism in Canada [Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd., 1966], pp. 3-26) quotes R. G. Haliburton's 1869 lecture, which Berger considers to be the "seedbed of the northern race idea." As Haliburton put it, "...may not our snow and frost give us what is of more value than gold or silver, a healthy, hardy, virtuous, dominant race?" (p. 6). Haliburton was only the beginning. Many of the themes related to the North, which Berger gathers from the nationalist writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, recur in the nationalist rhetoric of the Group of Seven and their supporters. See also Carl Berger's The Sense of Power, Studies in the Ideas of Canadian Imperialism 1867-1914 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1970), especially Chapter Five, "The Canadian Character," pp. 128-152.

7 We know that Harris was back in Canada by 1908 because he took his first sketching trip into the North that year. See footnote 9, below.

8 The Arts and Letters Club - Fifty Years (Toronto: 1958), unnumbered pages. Harris is included in the list "Charter Members: 1908-1909."

9 From handwritten answers and comments by Lawren S. Harris on the thirty-two page typewritten questionnaire sent to him in Vancouver by The Art Gallery of Toronto in preparation for the retrospective exhibition Lawren Harris, Paintings 1910-1948. The exhibition was held at The Art Gallery of Toronto from 14 October to 16 November 1948. The questionnaire is in the Curatorial File, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, and the numbered list of sketching trips is on p. 4.

10 Ibid.

11 L. H. (Lawren Harris), "Hemmings Black and White," The Lamps (Toronto), vol. I, no. 1 (October 1911), p. II.

12 Lawren Harris, " Revelation of Art in Canada," The Canadian Theosophist, vol. VII, no. 5 (15 July 1926), pp. 85-86.

13 Ibid., p. 86.

14 Lawren Harris, "Creative Art and Canada," The McGill News (Supplement), vol. 10, no. I (December 1928), p. 9. The best account of the travels of Harris and other members of the Group of Seven is in Dennis Reid's The Croup of Seven (Ottawa: The National Gallery of Canada, 1970).

15 His son, Lawren P. Harris, feels that those were years of personal crisis for Harris, and that this could account for his not having painted. (cf Tape-recorded conversation with the author of this article on II January 1973.)

16 On 10 June 1933, Harris read his paper, "Theosophy and Art" to the First North American International Inter-Theosophical Convention which was held at the Fox head Inn, Niagara Falls, Ontario, 10 and 11 June 1933. The paper appeared as two articles, each titled "Theosophy and Art," in The Canadian Theosophist, vol. XIV, no. 5 (15 July 1933), pp.129-132, and in no.6 (15 August 1933), pp. 162-166. Later in 1933 and early in 1934, Harris participated in a series of radio talks on behalf of The Theosophical Society, and was singles out for praise in the society's Canadian journal: "It is no disparagement to the others (the other speakers) to say that Mr Harris's address was a model of clear expression, lucid but condensed reasoning and convincing statement" (Canadian Theosophist, vol. XIV, no. 9, (15 November 1933), p. 273; see also vol. XIV, no. 10 (15 December 1933), p. 304, where it is said that the series will continue until at least 21 January).

17 Lawren Harris, "Winning a Canadian Background," Canadian Bookman, vol. v, no. 2 -(February 1923), p. 37.

18 Lawren Harris, "Sir Edmtmd Walker," Canadian Bookman, vol. VI, no. 5 (May 1924), p. 109.

19 Ibid.

20 Lawren Harris, "Creative Art and Canada" (1928), p.11.

21 Lawren Harris, "The Federation of Canadian Artists," Canadian Review of Music and Art, vol. III, nos 5-6 (June-July 1944), p. 31.

22 Lawren Harris, "The Group of Seven in Canadian History," The Canadian Historical Association: Report of the Annual Meeting held at Victoria and Vancouver June 16-19, 1948 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1948), p. 36.

23 Quoted by Harris in "What the Public Wants," Canadian Art, vol. XII, no. 1 (Autumn 1954), p. 12. (I have not as yet located the text in "A. E." [George Russell].)

24 Ibid.

25 Ibid.

26 Ibid., p. 13.

27 Ibid.

28 Ibid.

29 Lawren Harris in Ronald Hambleton, "An Experience of Life: Painter Lawren Harris interviewed by Ronald Hambleton," CBC Times, vol. VII, no. 47 (5-11 June 1955), p. 2.

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