A.Y. (Alexander Young) Jackson was a founding member of the Group of Seven who has been recognized for his contribution to the development of art in Canada. Born in Montreal, A.Y. Jackson studied with William Brymner at the Art Association of Montreal, at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1906, and with Jean-Paul Laurens at the Académie Julien, Paris, in 1907. He painted in Europe frequently between 1906 and 1912. It was A.Y. Jackson’s painting “The Edge of the Maple Wood (1910)” that attracted the attention of J.E.H. MacDonald and Lawren Harris, as Harris later purchased the painting from A.Y. Jackson. Jackson exhibited with the Group of Seven from 1920 and played a significant role in bringing the artists of Montreal and Toronto together. 1
A.Y. Jackson, 1925, Coldwell, Lake Superior,
oil on panel, 8.5 in. x 10.5 in.,
signed; titled and dated October 1925 by the artist on the verso side, the verso is also signed by Dr. James M. MacCullum.
Provenance: Dr. James M. MacCullum, (1860 – 1943), was a Canadian ophthalmologist and one of the most important early patrons and friends to the Group of Seven. Dr. MacCullum had financially supported both A.Y. Jackson and Tom Thomson in 1914. MacCullum had also financed a quarter of the construction costs of the historic Studio Building in Toronto located in Rosedale Valley on Severn St. The Studio Building was a permanent workspace for artists in Toronto. MacCullum became close friends with the Group of Seven artists and accompanied the Group of Seven members on expeditions north, such as important trips to the Algoma region.
This rare and exceptional period work, Coldwell, Lake Superior, 1925, by A.Y. Jackson, reproduced above, was painted the same year that Jackson travelled with Lawren Harris to Lake Superior to experience and paint the rugged remote landscape of the Northern Shore. As Jackson comments “Superior was very remote with a special light and the clouds were special.” Paul Duval, a renowned Canadian art historian and personal friend to the Group of Seven artists, describes Lake Superior Country “Here was a land almost barren, an unremitting wilderness of rocky hills, defoliated trees and a vast expanse of water, a challenging theme for any painter.” 2
One can see a striking parallel between this terrific 1925 Lake Superior painting by A.Y. Jackson and Lawren Harris’ painting titled Lake Superior Country, 1925. These two friends and renowned Canadian artists were likely side by side sketching this remote landscape. As Paul Duval notes “ from a few bare tree trunks, rock bed and endless, unimpeded stretches of water and sky, these painters found the source for their timeless visions in paint.”3
In Coldwell, Lake Superior, 1925, A.Y. Jackson is remarkably successful in conveying his deft impression of the first snowfall of winter and his profound experience of the cold remote northern landscape of Lake Superior. As A.Y. Jackson notes about the region of Lake Superior “I know of no more impressive scenery in Canada for the landscape painter. There is a sublime order to it, the long curves of the beaches, the sweeping ranges of hills, and headlands that push out into the lake. Inland there are intimate little lakes, stretches of muskeg, outcrops of rock: there is little soil for agriculture. In the autumn the whole country glows with colour; the huckleberry and the pincherry turn crimson, the mountain ash is loaded with red berries, the poplar and the birch turn yellow and the tamarac greenish gold” 4
James Rottman Fine Art carries a significant inventory of historical artworks by A.Y. (Alexander Young) Jackson. Do not hesitate to contact us with inquiries regarding this artwork or other works by A.Y. (Alexander Young) Jackson.
1A.Y Jackson biography extracted directly from National Gallery of Canada website.
2Paul Duval, Where the Universe Sings, Harris, Cerebrus Publishing, 2011, Pg. 234,
3 & 4A.Y. Jackson, A Painter’s Country, the Autobiography of A.Y Jackson, Clarke, Irwin and Company Limited, 1967, pg. 48,