Road to Charlevois

Alexander Young (A.Y.) Jackson
  • Date: c. 1936
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 52 x 64.7 cm
  • Credit Line: Art Fund, 1957
  • Permanent Collection ID: 57.A.77

Road to Charlevois

Alexander Young (A.Y.) Jackson

A native of Montreal, A.Y. Jackson felt a deep connection to the landscapes of Quebec. His first canvases of rural Quebec appeared in 1921, and he continued to explore the countryside in the decades that followed, making an effort to return each spring. Jackson’s Quebec paintings often include a human presence: in Road to Charlevois, a man follows a horse-drawn sleigh. The distant figure becomes one with the serpentine roads and hills that score the canvas and create an illusion of both flatness and depth within the painting.

By the time he painted Road to Charlevois, Jackson was a member of the Canadian Group of Painters. The long-lived Group, which lasted from 1933 until 1969, was founded to “promote closer co-operation among artists of Canada who have for a period of years expressed a sympathetic kinship in their interpretation of the Canadian environment.”1 Comprised of Group of Seven members as well as male and female artists from across the nation, the Group was criticized for being unfocussed in its aims and conservative in its aesthetics. In the words of a young Harold Town, the Group exhibitions “told us art was alive and proved it was dead.”2 Nonetheless, it affirmed the place of a distinctly Canadian art within a larger Western art tradition and helped provide a sense of identity for generations of Canadian artists.

1. quoted in Joan Murray, Canadian Art in the Twentieth Century (Toronto: Dundurn,1999), 78.

2. Harold Town, “Note to Critics: light bulbs have no lessons for the sun” (Review of Paul Duval’s Four Decades: The Canadian Group of Painters 1930-1970), Globe and Mail, November 25, 1972.