March in the Birch Woods, after Clarence Gagnon A Y Jackson

Tempera on Board
29 × 39 inches
73.66 × 99.06 cm
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This tempera painting on board by Group of Seven member A.Y. Jackson is adapted from Clarence Gagnon's well known painting March in the Birch Woods (1919). Jackson painted this work c. 1943 as part of a war time project to adapt select Canadian paintings and recreate them as silkscreen prints. The silkscreens were printed by Sampson-Matthews Ltd. in Toronto. The silkscreen process used up to 15 oil-based ink colours. On the back of this tempera by Jackson is a list of the colours he used. They are named and numbered 1 through 10. The prints were created to contribute to the morale of the country during WWII. For troops stationed far from home, the art reminded them of what they were fighting to preserve. The prints found their way into army barracks and later classrooms, libraries, government buildings and more. Jackson is given most of the credit for pushing this project forward and winning the support of the National Gallery of Canada director Harry McCurry. The two men selected the paintings to be printed. There were 25 different silkscreens as part of a first series. Another 11 were created between 1944-1945. The project continued after the war until 1963. Jackson's painting after Gagnon is included in a new book about this wartime print project, Art for War and Peace: How a Great Art Project Helped Canada Discover Itself (2015) by Ian Sigvaldason and Scott Steedman.

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