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

Winter Sun Over Old Toronto, c. 1959 – 60

oil on panel
30x36 in.
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Provenance
Roberts Gallery, Toronto;
Canadian Industries Ltd.;
The Art Emporium, Vancouver;
Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal;
Private collection, Montreal, 1987;
A.K. Prakash & Associates Inc, Toronto

Exhibited
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1962; Centre d’Art, Shawinigan, Quebec, 1962;
Stewart Hall, Pointe Claire, Quebec, 1962; St. Joseph’s Seminary, Trois Rivieres, Quebec, 1962;
Exhibition of Contemporary Canadian Art, Rochester, New York, 1963;
St. Mary’s College, Brockville, Ontario, 1963; East York Public Library, Toronto, 1963;
Parkdale Public Library, Toronto, 1963; Cookesville Central Library, Toronto, 1964;
C.I.L. House, Montreal, Quebec, 1964; Saint John high School, Saint John, N.B., 1964;
Rodman Hall Arts Center, St. Catharines, Ontario, 1965; Orillia Public Library, Orillia, Ontario, 1965;
48th Canadian Chemical Conference, Montreal, 1965;
Confederation Art Gallery and Museum, Charlottetown, P.E.I., 1965;
Cowansville Art Center, Cowansville, Quebec, 1965; Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta, 1965;
University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1965; Calgary Allied Arts Council, Calgary, Alberta, 1965;
Séminaire de St. Hyacinthe, St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, 1966; C.I.L. House, Montreal, Quebec, 1966;
Sarnia Public Library and Museum, Sarnia, Ontario, 1966; Séminaire de St. Jean, St. Jean, Quebec, 1966;
University of Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, 1966; Boucherville Civil Center, Boucherville, Quebec, 1966;
Barrie Public Library, Barrie, Ontario, 1966; Hamilton Art Gallery, Hamilton, Ontario, 1966;
The Engineers Club, Toronto, Ontario, 1967; Stewart Hall, Pointe-Claire, Quebec, 1967;
South Peace Art Society, Dawson Creek, British Columbia, 1967; C.I.L. House, Montreal, Quebec, 1967;
University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, 1967;
Nationalism in Canadian Art, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, B.C., 1979; Art Gallery of Ontario, 1989;
Canadian Masterpieces, Water Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal, September 2008;
Collector’s Treasures, Eric Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal, October 2020;

Literature
CIL Catalogue, Montreal Museum of Fine arts, cat. no. 6, Montreal, 1962;
CIL Collection Brochure, Confederation Art Gallery, listed, Charlottetown, PEI, 1966;
CIL Collection, Brochure, CIL House, Montreal, 1966;
Roger Boulet and Paul Duval, The Canadian Earth: Landscape Paintings by the Group of Seven, Toronto, 1982,
illustrated in colour p. 79;

Alfred Joseph Casson’s innate sense of design shapes and refines all of his work, especially his late works, such as this magnificent panel depicting winter in old Toronto. A masterful work with a storied exhibition history, it is a rare find outside of a museum collection. We are looking at a mixed-use building, with shops on the main floor and residential apartments above, in a period of winter thaw. While reminiscent of Lawren Harris’s urban scenes from The Ward in subject, that is where the comparison ends, as Casson has removed all social commentary from the scene, giving us colour and light and form alone. There are no advertisements, no signs, nothing with words – he has turned these regions into blocks of muted, neutrally-voiced colour. Similarly, all comments on class, caste or socio-economic states have been removed. We have instead and tour de force of simple design, where pattern, the tonal range of a limited palette, and refracted light take centre stage. “He preaches no sermon, makes no social comment. He does not probe our guilty conscience of make us feel ashamed. He simply distills for us a scene of … monumental calm and offers it to us as a purely aesthetic experience.” In this regard, A.J. Casson’s works are a unique passage in Canadian art, and of this type, Winter Sun Over Old Toronto is a masterpiece.

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…