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McMichael Receives Donation of Rare Lawren S. Harris Artifacts


Painting tools and wooden box with drawing utensils belonging to Lawren S. Harris, Gift of Stewart Sheppard, grandson of Lawren S. Harris, McMichael Canadian Art Collection  February 25, 2014, KLEINBURG ON - Stewart Sheppard, the grandson of visionary Canadian artist Lawren S. Harris, has donated a selection of his grandfather’s art materialsto the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. Among the rare artifacts, several of which are now on display in the gallery, are Harris's paintbox, two palettes, a wood panel for sketching, a canvas stretcher, several knives and brushes, and a small wooden box containing drawing tools. The objects are an invaluable source of insight into the working methods of one of Canada's most celebrated artists and thinkers.

“The McMichael is so pleased and honoured to receive Mr. Sheppard’s generous donation of artifacts,” said McMichael Executive Director and CEO, Victoria Dickenson. “The work of Lawren Harris represents such an important part of the Collection, and these objects will give curators, art historians, and visitors a better understanding of the artistic process behind Canadian masterworks like Mt. Lefroy and Pic Island.” 

The paintbox likely dates from Harris’s early landscape period when he would have been working outdoors. Portable and lightweight, it is characterized by a series of slots in the lid which allowed the artist to stack and transport his oil sketches. After Harris’s death, the paint box and accompanying objects were transferred to his daughter, Margaret Knox, and later to his grandson.

The McMichael currently possesses similar artifacts belonging to Tom Thomson, J.E.H. MacDonald, A.Y. Jackson, A.J. Casson, Franklin Carmichael, F.H. Varley, Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer, and L.L. FitzGerald, which are often displayed as part of temporary and permanent collection exhibitions.

Harris occupies a particularly distinguished place within the history of the McMichael. The first work by a Group of Seven member purchased by the founders, Robert and Signe McMichael, was a small painting by Harris entitled, Montreal River (c. 1920), which was paid for in installments. 

Harris and his wife Bess are both buried in the Artists’ Cemetery on the McMichael grounds, alongside five fellow Group of Seven members and their wives.

About the McMichael Canadian Art Collection

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an agency of the Government of Ontario and acknowledges the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. It is the foremost venue in the country showcasing the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. In addition to touring exhibitions, its permanent collection consists of almost 6,000 artworks by Canadian artists, including paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, as well as First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists. The gallery is located on 100 acres of northern landscape and hiking trails at 10365 Islington Avenue, Kleinburg, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in the City of Vaughan. 
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