Carl Schaefer: Home for the Holidays

Carl Schaefer, Christmas Motif, Hanover 1925. Pen and black ink on calendered card, 18.7 x 20 cm. Purchased 1992. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa Photo: NGC

Among the works at the National Gallery of Canada is a small drawing of a snowbound evergreen tree in a winter landscape by Canadian artist Carl Schaefer. Christmas Motif, Hanover was drawn in 1925, following the artist’s education at the Ontario College of Art. Though immersed in the art of the Group of Seven through his formative training under J.E.H. MacDonald and Arthur Lismer and the artistic climate of Toronto in the 1920s, Schaefer is generally considered one of the few Canadian artists that developed a truly personal style of landscape art.

The location identified in Christmas Motif, Hanover is the artist’s place of birth, a small rural community in Ontario, south of Owen Sound. Due to economic circumstances, Schaefer returned home to Hanover every year and, as a result, this community inspired his entire career, becoming the place he most often represented. The reference to the specific place and time in the title Christmas Motif, Hanover reinforces his deep-rooted connection with his home during the holiday season.

Schaefer returned to the motif of the stylized tree on many occasions, particularly in his graphic designs of the 1930s. As in Christmas Motif, Hanover and many other works, his awareness of contemporary Canadian art and his keen awareness of his immediate environment is treated in a distinctly individual manner.


Scenes of Hanover by Carl Schaefer are on view in Gallery A109 of the Canadian and Indigenous Galleries at the National Gallery of CanadaShare this article and subscribe to our newsletters to stay up-to-date on the latest articles, Gallery exhibitions, news and events, and to learn more about art in Canada.

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