A.J. Casson Spotlight
The 1920s was a very special time for watercolours in Canadian art. A. J. Casson, Franklin Carmichael and F.H Brigden founded the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour in 1925. Casson and Carmichael featured their watercolours in a separate room within the Group of Seven exhibitions in the late 1920s to give them more importance. They also produced a series of these larger format pieces, 17″ x 20″. Casson chose “West Guildford” as one of the watercolours to feature in the 1982 book “My Favourite Watercolours” 1919 – 1957 with a forward by Paul Duval.
Casson wrote about this piece.
“This sketch is a reflection of my renewed interest in the villages of southern Ontario. My wife and I spend some time during the summer of 1930 at a cottage on Twelve Mile Lake. While we were there, I explored the surrounding area and came upon the little village of West Guildford. That fall, I went back to West Gulidford, rented an old hunter’s cabin and sketched for a week. From a technical point of view, this watercolour is a marriage of styles. The buildings, fence posts and road are echoes of earlier village sketches, while the hills are clearly reminiscent of the technique I used north of Lake Superior.”
The second half of the 1920’s saw Casson’s career and stature take off to a new level. He became an official member of the Group of Seven and a founding member of the still vibrant Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour. By 1929 Mr Casson was an important member of the Group. Still working full time at the printing and design house Sampson Matthews, he would do a majority of his painting on weekends, vacations or one day trips like this piece in Caledon. He would park his car along the side of the road and set up his sketch box to paint a subject that caught his eye. This colourful and dramatic composition displays an interesting time in Casson’s career where he was still influenced by other members of the Group but was starting to develop his own recognizable style.