This painting shows a landscape with rocky ground. At the centre of the composition, tall green pines soar against a deep blue sky scattered with white clouds.

Alexander Y. Jackson

(Montréal 1882 – Kleinburg, Ontario, 1974)

 

Terre sauvage

[Wilderness]

1913

Oil on canvas

128.8 x 154.4 cm

Acquired in 1936

National Gallery of Canada, 4351

© Estate of A. Y. Jackson / SODRAC (2018)

Courtesy of the estate of  Dr. Naomi Jackson Groves

Photo: National Gallery of Canada


The decorative effects of Terre sauvage [Wilderness] result from the simplicity of the composition, the schematic forms and the brilliant areas of flat colour. After seeing Alexander Y. Jackson’s oils in late 1913, the Toronto Star art critic F. H. Gadsby dubbed the modernism of the future Group of Seven members the “Hot Mush School,” in reference to the colours and heavily textured paint. Nevertheless, Terre Sauvage, through its subject matter, composition and non-academic style, launched a movement that would mark Canadian art in the years to come.


In 1913, after his work met with mixed reviews in Quebec, Alexander Y. Jackson moved to Toronto. There he became friends with the future members of the Group of Seven, including Lawren S. Harris and Frederick H. Varley. It was also in 1913 that Harris and James E. H. Macdonald (1873-1932) first saw Scandinavian painting, whose style would influence their concept of a distinctly Canadian art. In this sense, 1913 was as important as 1920, the year the Group of Seven was officially formed.

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