This work is divided into three parts. The centre panel pictures three boys on a low wall, two sitting and one lying down. Two smaller side panels show trees whose branches stretch into the centre panel.

George A. Reid

(Wingham, Ontario, 1860 – Toronto 1947)


Drawing Lots


Oil on canvas

118.2 x 319.8 cm

Gift of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Toronto, 1995

Art Gallery of Ontario, 95/357  

© Art Gallery of Ontario

George A. Reid delved into his childhood memories to create the realist triptych Drawing Lots. The scene shows three boys drawing lots with straws as they lounge on a brick wall. The rhythmic order of the composition is created by the horizontal line of the wall in the central panel, which is framed by the vertical trees in the side panels. This adds a decorative aspect to the narrative painting, in which Reid captures the social and artistic climate of the time.

George A. Reid championed public art and believed art should be integrated into daily life. He and his wife, the painter Mary Heister Reid (1854-1921), were pillars of the Toronto art community. Reid was a leading exponent of the Arts and Crafts movement and a Canadian master of genre painting. He attributed a social function to art, as a means to further civic ideals. In 1894, he founded the Society of Mural Decorators and, in 1903, the Arts and Crafts Society of Canada. Throughout his career, Reid encouraged the expression of a distinctly Canadian art through mural painting.


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