Artwork by James Edward Hervey MacDonald,  Roches Point, Lake Simcoe

J.E.H. MacDonald
Roches Point, Lake Simcoe

oil on board
signed, titled and dated 1920 on the reverse
8 x 10.25 ins ( 20.3 x 26 cms )

Auction Estimate: $15,000.00$12,000.00 - $15,000.00

Price Realized $21,600.00
Sale date: June 9th 2021

Roberts Gallery, Toronto
Private Collection, Ontario
Heffel Fine Art, auction, Toronto, May 23, 2007, Lot 42
Private Collection, Vancouver
In 1919 and 1920, in conjunction with the formation of the Group of Seven, J.E.H. MacDonald embarked on many trips to sketch the wilderness of rural Ontario. He was often accompanied by Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson and Arthur Lismer, and at other times travelled alone. Algoma County was a favourite for longer and more rustic expeditions, while Lake Simcoe was a frequent destination closer to home in Toronto. Located on the eastern shores of the lake, Roches Point was a beloved cottage destination in the early twentieth century and continues to be today. It is known for its picturesque shoreline views, as captured by MacDonald in this 1920 oil sketch.

Like Tom Thomson, with whom he worked at the design firm Grip Ltd., MacDonald was an advocate for the small oil sketch produced “en plein-air”. “Roches Point, Lake Simcoe” would have been painted by the artist while stationed directly on the shoreline. There, he was able to take in and reproduce the tranquil scene of the open body of water and sky. MacDonald’s delicate brushstrokes and pastel coloured palette create a soothing atmospheric effect in this impressionistic rendering of Canadian terrain.

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James Edward Hervey MacDonald
(1873 - 1932) Group of Seven, OSA, RCA

J.E.H. MacDonald was born in Durham, England in 1873 of Canadian parents. He took evening art classes at the Hamilton Art School as a teenager, before relocating to Toronto. In Toronto, he studied at the Central Ontario School of Art. From 1894, he worked as a graphic designer at Grip Ltd. In 1903, he sailed for England and joined Carlton Studios, a London graphic firm. On his return to Canada in 1907 he rejoined Grip and began to paint the landscape near Toronto. Around this time, Tom Thomson joined the Grip staff. Frank H. Johnston joined a short time later. These artists found that they had much in common and began going on sketching trips as a group. In 1910, he exhibited for the first time at the Royal Canadian Academy. By 1912, all the original members of the Group of Seven had met and were sketching quite regularly together. MacDonald was devastated by the accidental drowning of Tom Thomson in 1917. He designed a brass plaque to Thomson's memory which was mounted to a cairn erected at Canoe Lake. The first official Group of Seven exhibition took place in May of 1920. MacDonald accepted a teaching position at the Ontario College of Art in 1921 and was appointed as principal in 1929. He continued to go on painting trips, but his teaching responsibilities sapped his energies and he did few large canvases during this time. He died in Toronto in 1932.