The Upper Ottawa, near Mattawa, 1924
oil on canvas
101.5 x 123.1 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 4271)
Carmichael's important canvas "The Upper Ottawa, near Mattawa" (no. 12) resulted from a sketching trip to Mattawa, Ontario, during the late summer of 1924. His satisfaction with it is evident in his recommendations for its inclusion in numerous important exhibitions throughout the following decade, among them the Group's 1925 show and the British Empire Exhibition held in Wembley, England, the same year. Of the three large oils owned by the National Gallery of Canada, this example best demonstrates his working process across different media, from on-site observations to finished exhibition work. Shown here in some depth are his initial developments for it, including sketchbook drawings, as well as drawings for another large painting, "Red Pines" (location unknown). The studies for both paintings reflect his interest in the foreground tree, which he observed from several angles before committing it to oil paint. The classic jagged pine tree was a motif often used by Group artists to structure their compositions.