Franklin Carmichael (1890-1945), a founding member of the Group of Seven, was remembered by A.Y. Jackson (1882-1974), in his autobiography, as "a lyrical painter of great ability and a fine craftsman." Carmichael was born in Orillia, Ontario. By 1911 he was working in Toronto, for the commercial art firm, Grip Limited, which served as a catalyst for his introduction to artists such as J.E.H. MacDonald (1873-1932), Arthur Lismer (1885-1969), Tom Thomson (1877-1917) and Lawren Harris (1885-1970). At this time Carmichael enrolled in evening courses at the Ontario College of Art with G.A. Reid (1860-1947) and William Cruikshank (1849-1922), and at the Toronto Technical School with Gustav Hahn (1866-1962). Carmichael continued his education in Europe from 1913 to 1914, attending the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium, where Arthur Lismer and Fred Varley (1881-1969) had studied. In 1915 he married Ada Lillian Went. Following his marriage, he worked in Toronto for the commercial art firm, Rous and Mann, where he met A.J. Casson (1898-1992).
Carmichael worked in various media: painting, drawing, printmaking and other graphic arts. He held memberships in numerous art societies, including the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour (founding member, 1925; president, 1932-1934), Canadian Group of Painters (founding member, 1933), and Ontario Society of Artists (president, 1937-1940). From 1932 until his death in 1945 Carmichael was a distinguished teacher at the Ontario College of Art, Toronto. He was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy in 1935, and became a full academician in 1938.
The Library of Franklin Carmichael is the only book collection of a member of the Group of Seven to have remained intact. It consists of approximately 580 books, exhibition catalogues, periodicals and technical manuals, which are mainly nineteenth and twentieth century imprints. In addition, the Library includes sixteen illuminated manuscript leaves, produced in France, England, Italy and Flanders between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries.
Carmichael was an avid reader, and the Library is broad in subject scope, reflecting interests in art history, theory and technique, as well as theosophy, history, literature, music and gardening. The Library includes examples of juvenilia, as well as volumes with inscriptions and annotations by Carmichael and association copies, such as Annie Besant's Theosophy (1912), inscribed, "Frank C from Lawren Harris."
The National Gallery of Canada received the Library of Franklin Carmichael in three parts, donated in 1995, 1996 and 1997. The illuminated manuscript leaves were donated to the National Gallery in 1997.
Four item-level finding aids provide bibliographic descriptions of titles in the Library of Franklin Carmichael. Records for items in parts one and three are entered in the online catalogue of the Library and Archives.