A.J. Casson

The youngest member of the Group of Seven, A.J. Casson is one of the most prominent individuals in Canadian art history and remembered for his generous and enduring support of other artists.  A champion of watercolour as a medium, his works often dealt with scenes of Ontario village life and the cold beauty of the Canadian wildernesss. For much of Casson’s life, he worked as a designer at Sampson-Matthews in Toronto, eventually rising to the role of Vice President and Creative Director; at this printing company, he helped introduce the still-new technology of silkscreen reproduction to Canada.  After three decades, he retired from the firm in 1958 to pursue his art full-time.  He served as the president of both the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and the Ontario Society of Artists and, in 1978, received the Order of Canada in recognition of his prominent role in the Canadian art world.  The last surviving member of the Group of Seven, he died in 1992 and is buried on the grounds of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario.

“White Pine”, one of the most famous images in Canadian art history, exists both as a Sampson-Matthews silkscreen and as a painting.  The silkscreen, first produced by Casson in 1947, was so popular that he reworked it into a painting nearly 9 years later; the painting has been part of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection since it was produced.  White Pine, the painting, is likely the most commonly reproduced Canadian art image but the Sampson-Matthews silkscreens are original, authentic, handmade artworks A.J. Casson produced himself between 1947 and 1953.  An uplifting image of a solitary tree on a rock overlooking Georgian Bay on a cold day, this piece reflects the strength and endurance of the Canadian people.  “Fisherman’s Point, MacGregor’s Bay”, “Poplar” and “Summer Morning” are all silkscreen landscapes Casson produced for Sampson-Matthews between 1947 and 1953.  “The Sampson-Matthews silkscreen project” Casson said, “is the project I am the most proud to be a part of and provided me the most enjoyment.”