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The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson

by David Silcox

Coffee-table books dedicated to the works of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven have been something of a Canadian cottage industry for decades now. It’s hard to imagine at this point, but as David Silcox points out in his comprehensive introduction to The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson hundreds of the Group’s paintings have never been reproduced. Silcox goes some way to rectifying that problem in his comprehensive and beautifully laid-out tribute to the loose affiliation of artists who attempted, through their work and writings, to define a distinctly Canadian aesthetic.

The Group’s most recognizable works – including Thomson’s The Jack Pine and Lawren Harris’s Lake Superior – and hundreds of paintings known only to specialists and collectors are reproduced here in large, glossy photographs. Silcox arranges the paintings thematically, beginning with a chapter on the Group’s most iconic paintings and moving through “Gardens, Still Lifes, and Portraits,” “The First World War,” and “Cities, Towns, and Villages.” The proceeding chapters offer a geographical tour of Canada from “The East Coast” to “The Canadian Arctic.” The layout offers readers an opportunity to explore the Group’s work not according to the individual painters but to how each of them approached the same subject matter. The production values are exquisite and the paintings well chosen throughout.