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

Magnetawan Village, 1930

oil on board
9.25x11.25 in.

Acquired diretly from the artist in the 1930s;
By descent to private collection, Ontario;
Sale of Heffel Fine Art, November 19, 2008, lot 123;
Private collection

Casson was extremely fond of the scenery at Parry Sound, of which Magnetawan Village, in the Almaguin Highlands, is a fine example. He had painted buildings since his early years in Toronto, working in The Ward in the early 1920s, developing a sensitivity to them immediately. They are, in a sense, portraits of the villages themselves, capturing their character as well as their physical structures.
Occasionally, a sketch comes along that can be pinpointed to a still- standing building, as Magnetawan has many old structures, some protected as heritage sites, and a rich history.

By the 1930s Casson had seen, and was influenced by, the work of American painter Edward Hopper. While Casson is known to have admired his work, and at times, as we see here and in Schenks Store and Post Office, to echo Hopper’s stillness and concentrated gaze, Casson is devoid of Hopper’s distinct and often quite critical social commentary. His gaze is instead benign, as if through rose coloured glasses, where the intent is to see the beauty and charm of this quaint town. Magnetawan Village has a unified, soft palette of greys and pale pinky browns, buttery greens
and a touch or brighter orange. It is a fine example of Casson’s skill with subdued colour, wherein these soft tones are heightened by the blue accents on the windows of the nearest building, and set off against the billowing clouds.


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…