A.J. Casson P.R.C.A.

Farm at Carnarvon, 1940

oil on panel
9.5x11.5 in.

Libby’s of Toronto, Toronto;
Private collection

Farm at Carnarvon exemplifies A.J. Casson’s excellent colour sense and finely honed knowledge of design. By 1940, he had been working as a designer for over 20 years, and would not retire from that work to paint full time until 1957. These design skills would form a solid foundation for Casson’s paintings throughout his life. Farm at Carnarvon is a bucolic work, depicting another of Casson’s frequent sketching haunts, Carnarvon, Ontario, in the Algonquin Highlands, a group of hamlets
west of Haliburton that also includes Dorset, Stanhope and Oxtongue Lake. These places were the inspiration for several works by Casson, as he often painted along their connecting road – Highway 35.

Many of Casson’s large canvases depict this region. The charming farmhouse and its outbuildings sit at the foot of a tree covered hillside that rolls off into the distance, losing detail as it meets and blends into the clouded sky. A bright patch
of sunlit field sets the farm off against the hill, and anchors the scene with another patch of bright grasses in front of the farmhouse. The greyed buildings seem to have sprung from the ground itself, and are completely at home in the landscape. The ramshackle fence, so characteristic of this region, adds weight on the right, balancing out the chimney pots on the taller house at the left. All of this is rendered in Casson’s even, assured brushwork. This farm is still standing, one of the Algonquin
Highlands’ windows into history.


Alfred Joseph Casson, painter (b at Toronto 17 May 1898; d there 20 Feb 1992). After study at Hamilton (1913-15) and Toronto (1915-17), A.J. Casson got his first real job in 1919 at a Toronto commercial art firm as Franklin Carmichael’s apprentice. Carmichael had the greatest influence on Casson as…