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

Near Credit Forks, 1926

oil on board
9.75x11.25 in.

J. Wildridge, Toronto;
Private collection

A.J. Casson Retrospective, Art Gallery of Windsor, May 14 – July 9, 1978,
Art Gallery of Ontario, July 22 – August 27, 1978, catalogue no. 11

Casson first started sketching with the Group of Seven in 1926, when he was invited to replace Frank Johnston. Thrilled at this opportunity, Casson, who was much younger than any of the other Group members, took it upon himself to handle many of the chores of the sketching trips – rising early to start the fire, cooking, shaking snow off their tents and enjoying the whole experience thoroughly. He painted with them, and participated in the evening critiques, learning to see the landscape in new ways and developing his work in this positive, collegial environment. He was
especially influenced by J.E.H. MacDonald, whose work he held in great esteem.

Casson was ready and eager to contribute to their 1926 exhibition, and was singled out in a review that year: “The newcomer to the Group of Seven does not experiment with modernism. He is a fine colourist with a feeling for Canadian landscape. To those who know and love the scenery of civilized Ontario, Casson speaks with
eloquence.”1 Casson was also elected to the Royal Canadian Academy that same year, being told, of his new association with the Group, “Watch your step, you’re keeping bad company.” 2

This vibrant sketch Near Credit Forks is all Group in its handling, colour, and composition, and rare in both its earliness and its beauty. With a close-in depth of field, predominance of pattern and sense of wild entanglement, it is a fine example of his debut as a Group member. In this “bad company” Casson would thrive, and his work would develop steadily. He continued to show as a full Group member until their dissolution in 1932.

1 Gray, Rand, and Steen. A.J. Casson: Canadian Artists Series 1. Gage Publishing, 1976, p 12.
2 Ibid

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…