Arthur Lismer
(1885-1969)

An original founding member of the Group of Seven, Arthur Lismer was born in Sheffield, England, and moved to Canada in 1911. By 1914 he was visiting Algonquin Park and Georgian Bay on painting trips with Tom Thomson. He participated in the first Group of Seven exhibition in 1920 at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now called the Art Gallery of Ontario) and showed his work widely for the rest of his life. Respected as an art educator, Lismer served as president of the Victoria College of Art (now called NSCAD University) and principal of the Ontario College of Art, held a commission as an Official War Artist, created a prestigious children’s art program at the Art Gallery of Toronto, held membership in the Royal Canadian Academy of Artss, and was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. Shortly after his death in 1969, the National Gallery of Canada hosted a retrospective memorial exhibition of his work. He died in Montreal but was buried alongside other members of the Group of Seven at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario.

“Isles of Spruce” (1943) was the only work Lismer contributed to Sampson-Matthews and it was one of the best selling images in the collection. Based on a painting Lismer produced in 1922 now in the University of Toronto’s Hart House collection, this image from the wartime silkscreen art program was also used by Canada Post in 1970 on a 6-cent stamp to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Group of Seven. In this work, a small rocky island supports a tight cluster of spruce above a perfectly still northern lake. While the deciduous trees in the image offer a band of golden yellow, signifying the arrival of fall, the tall coniferous spruce in the foreground and background stand strong against the coming cold and maintain their deep green hue.

Artwork for sale by
Arthur Lismer

Artwork for sale by Arthur Lismer