Thoreau MacDonald

Last updated

Thoreau MacDonald
Thoreau MacDonald, son of Group of Seven Artist J.E.H. MacDonald, at his home in Thornhill, c1950.jpg
Thoreau MacDonald at his home in Thornhill, c.1950
Born1901 (1901)
Toronto, Ontario
Known forartist

Thoreau MacDonald (April 21, 1901 at Toronto, Ontario – May 30, 1989 at Toronto) [1] was a Canadian illustrator, graphic and book designer, and artist. [2]



MacDonald was the son of Group of Seven member J. E. H. MacDonald. He was self-taught, but had worked on commercial art with his father, who was famous for his work in design. [3] Thoreau MacDonald was colour blind and as a result he worked primarily in black and white. [1]

MacDonald's contribution was mainly to the history of the area of graphic art in Canada and the United States. As an illustrator, MacDonald worked for Ryerson Press; Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire; the Canadian Forum magazine for which he designed many covers; [4] and on books in general, including those from his private press. [5] (In 1933 MacDonald launched Woodchuck Press, his own imprint for which he provided some text, illustrations, and design (it lasted until 1946)). [6]

He considered his finest book to be Maria Chapdelaine by Louis Hémon for Macmillan Company (1938). [7] He also designed lettering, [8] and did paintings, watercolours and drawings. [9] His work is found in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Hart House at the University of Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection among other collections. [10] There was one major exhibition of his work in Canada during his lifetime in 1952 at Museum London (then called the London Public Library and Art Museum). [11] In 1972, he was made an Honorary Life member of the Society of Ontario Naturalists whose cause he considered he had served life-long. [10]

His former home and 4-acre (16,000 m2) garden in Vaughan, Ontario, which he inherited from his father, was donated to the City of Vaughan in 1974. The building and grounds have been restored and are open to the public. [12]

Thoreau Mcdonald's fonds is in the E.P. Taylor Research Library & Archives, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Thoreau MacDonald Collection CA OTAG SC104.


Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Group of Seven (artists)</span> Group of Canadian landscape painters (1920–1933)

The Group of Seven, once known as the Algonquin School, was a group of Canadian landscape painters from 1920 to 1933, with "a like vision". It originally consisted of Franklin Carmichael (1890–1945), Lawren Harris (1885–1970), A. Y. Jackson (1882–1974), Frank Johnston (1888–1949), Arthur Lismer (1885–1969), J. E. H. MacDonald (1873–1932), and Frederick Varley (1881–1969). A. J. Casson (1898–1992) was invited to join in 1926, Edwin Holgate (1892–1977) became a member in 1930, and Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald (1890–1956) joined in 1932.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tom Thomson</span> Canadian painter (1877–1917)

Thomas John Thomson was a Canadian artist active in the early 20th century. During his short career, he produced roughly 400 oil sketches on small wood panels and approximately 50 larger works on canvas. His works consist almost entirely of landscapes, depicting trees, skies, lakes, and rivers. He used broad brush strokes and a liberal application of paint to capture the beauty and colour of the Ontario landscape. Thomson's accidental death by drowning at 39 shortly before the founding of the Group of Seven is seen as a tragedy for Canadian art.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lawren Harris</span> Canadian painter (1885–1970)

Lawren Stewart Harris LL. D. was a Canadian painter, best known as a leading member of the Group of Seven. He played a key role as a catalyst in Canadian art and as a visionary in Canadian landscape art.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Franklin Carmichael</span> 20th-century Canadian artist

Franklin Carmichael was a Canadian artist and member of the Group of Seven. Though he was primarily famous for his use of watercolours, he also used oil paints, charcoal and other media to capture the Ontario landscapes. Besides his work as a painter, he worked as a designer and illustrator, creating promotional brochures, advertisements in newspapers and magazines, and designing books. Near the end of his life, Carmichael taught in the Graphic Design and Commercial Art Department at the Ontario College of Art.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">J. E. H. MacDonald</span>

James Edward Hervey MacDonald (1873–1932) was an English-Canadian artist, best known as a member of the Group of Seven who asserted a distinct national identity combined with a common heritage stemming from early modernism in Europe in the early twentieth century. He was the father of the illustrator, graphic artist and designer Thoreau MacDonald.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Cruikshank (painter)</span> British painter

William Cruikshank was a British painter and the grand-nephew of George Cruikshank. He studied art at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh, at the Royal Academy School in London with Frederic Leighton and John Everett Millais, and in Paris at the Atelier Yvon. His last studies were interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War.

<i>The West Wind</i> (painting) Painting by Tom Thomson

The West Wind is a 1917 painting by Canadian artist Tom Thomson. An iconic image, the pine tree at its centre has been described as growing "in the national ethos as our one and only tree in a country of trees". It was painted in the last year of Thomson's life and was one of his final works on canvas. The painting, and a sketch for the painting, are displayed at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ontario Society of Artists</span> Professional artist society based in Canada

The Ontario Society of Artists (OSA) was founded in 1872. It is Canada's oldest continuously operating professional art society. When it was founded at the home of John Arthur Fraser, seven artists were present. Besides Fraser himself, Marmaduke Matthews, and Thomas Mower Martin were there, among others. Charlotte Schreiber was the first woman member in 1876 and showed work in the Society's Annual show of that year.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Joan Murray (art historian)</span> Canadian writer, curator, and art historian

Joan Arden Charlat Murray is an American-born Canadian art historian, writer and curator who is an advocate for Canadian art and curators.

<i>Fine Weather, Georgian Bay</i> Painting by J.E.H. MacDonald

Fine Weather, Georgian Bay is a 1913 oil painting by J.E.H. MacDonald. It is in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

James Metcalfe MacCallum (1860–1943) was a Canadian ophthalmologist and one of the most important patrons of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Death and legacy of Tom Thomson</span> The death and legacy of Canadian artist Tom Thomson

The death of Tom Thomson, the Canadian painter, occurred on 8 July 1917, on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park in Nipissing District, Ontario, Canada. After Thomson drowned in the water, his upturned canoe was discovered later that afternoon and his body eight days later. Many theories regarding Thomson's death—including that he was murdered or committed suicide—have become popular in the years since his death, though these ideas lack any substantiation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Artistic development of Tom Thomson</span> The artistic development of Tom Thomson

Tom Thomson (1877–1917) was a Canadian painter from the beginning of the 20th century. Beginning from humble roots, his development as a career painter was meteoric, only pursuing it seriously in the final years of his life. He became one of the foremost figures in Canadian art, leaving behind around 400 small oil sketches and around fifty larger works on canvas.

<i>Spring Ice</i> Painting by Tom Thomson

Spring Ice is a 1915–16 oil painting by Canadian painter Tom Thomson. The work was inspired by a sketch completed on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park. The completed canvas is large, measuring 72.0 × 102.3 cm. Painted over the winter of 1915–16, it was completed in Thomson's shack behind the Studio Building in Toronto. The painting was produced as he was in the peak of his short art career and is considered one of his most notable works. While exhibited in a show put on by the Ontario Society of Artists, the work received mixed to positive reviews. In 1916 it was purchased by the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa and has remained in the collection ever since.

Nancy Dillow, born Nancy Elizabeth Robertson, was a Canadian museum director, curator and writer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stewart Bagnani</span>

Stewart Bagnani was the first head of the extension program at the Art Gallery of Toronto, Canada, for twelve years. She also lectured in art history.

Dennis Burton was a Canadian modernist painter.

Richard Gorman was a Canadian painter and printmaker. He was known for his magnetic prints which he created using ink covered ball-bearings manipulated with a magnet held behind the drawing board and for his large paintings in which he broadly handled paint.

John Boyle is a Canadian painter known for his use of subjects drawn from his own specific life experience and from Canadian history. He was a part of the London Regional art movement.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">J. Archibald Browne</span> Canadian artist (1862-1948)

J. Archibald Browne was known for the poetic evocation of nature in his paintings. Some called him the Poet Painter of Canada. He was a founding member of the Canadian Art Club (1907) and its secretary.



  1. MacDonald told Toronto art collectors that this painting depicted him. [13]



  • Edison, Margaret (1973). Thoreau MacDonald. Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press. Retrieved February 6, 2021.
  • Furness, Amy Marshall; Fitzgibbon, Gary (2013). "Description & Finding Aid: Thoreau MacDonald Collection A OTAG SC104" (PDF). Art Gallery of Ontario. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 6, 2019. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  • Murray, Joan (2013). "Thoreau MacDonald". The Canadian Encyclopedia . Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  • Murray, Joan (2016). "Day Dreaming, Winter 1913–15". Tom Thomson Catalogue Raisonné.
  • Stacey, Robert (1996). J.E.H. MacDonald: Designer. Ottawa: Archives of Canadian Art. Retrieved February 7, 2021.

Further reading