Roberts Gallery Blog
Roberts Gallery Blog

J.E.H. MacDonald Spotlight

J.E.H. MacDonald was a master of the small oil study. In its colouring, content, and form MacDonald rendered the vastness of the Agawa Valley north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, as summer merged into autumn. In the century since their creation, the appearance of many of these sketches on paperboard have shifted as their supports darkened due to indiscriminate varnishing or overexposure to light. Here we see something like MacDonald saw when he used the smooth side of the pale paperboard. Like J.M.W. Turner’s use of the sheet of watercolour paper to illuminate his compositions from within, MacDonald did likewise with his paint and board. This view of the Agawa Valley teetering between summer and autumn evokes MacDonald’s commanding canvas Forest Wilderness in the McMichael Canadian Art Collection with the added thrill of the present work’s luminosity and aerial perspective outshining the much larger canvas.

Gregory Humeniuk
June 2021