J.E.H. MacDonald, Leaves in the Brook, 1919
James Edward Harvey MacDonald (1873-1932) was a Canadian painter and a founder of the Group of Seven, who helped launch the first major Canadian national art movement. MacDonald was born in England and moved to Canada with his English mother and Canadian father, a cabinetmaker. It was that year, at age fourteen, that young James began his first formal art training at the Hamilton School of Art in Ontario. After attending the Central Ontario School of Art and Design, MacDonald began working as a commercial designer. He quite his job in 1911 and moved with his wife and son to a more rural area of Ontario so that he could begin work in earnest as a landscape artist. Some of his early work resembles Impressionism, but he soon shows the influence of Expressionism. Throughout his career MacDonald continued to utilize different styles and explore the breadth of the Canadian landscape. Rather than a vast panoramic view, Leaves in the Brook is small, closeup examination of a natural element. This painting shows the vibrant beauty of autumn as the leaves blanket, not just the brook, but the ground. They seem to color everything, radiating their warm colors and turning even the rocks red and orange. They flit through the brook or float on the surface like so many fish in the water. The brook itself is deep blue and purple, where it isn't white with movement, coursing through this forest scene. MacDonald's loose brushwork and flowing lines perfectly communicate the swirling waters, and the crisp autumn breeze that blows the leaves into the small current.
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