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To See What He Saw

J.E.H. MacDonald and the O’Hara Years, 1924–1932

Stanley Munn, Patricia Cucman

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To See What He Saw focuses on the Lake O’Hara work produced by English-Canadian artist and Group of Seven member James Edward Hervey (J.E.H.) MacDonald, R.C A. (1873–1932) between 1924 and 1932. The book documents MacDonald’s seven trips to Yoho National Park in the Rocky Mountains of eastern British Columbia, Canada, and presents a detailed catalogue of the resulting en plein air sketches and the subsequent studio works completed during the last nine years of his life.

The book features more than 200 of MacDonald’s western works from this period, organized geographically with en plein air sketches and studio work illustrated side by side. Each sketch is accompanied by at least one present-day photograph, many of which are taken from the exact rocky perch where MacDonald sat. Save for the forest growth since the 1920s, this pairing enables the viewer to see what MacDonald saw, and to understand how he processed the landscape before him. The book includes full transcripts of diaries, essays, and poems from which detailed, chronological descriptions of MacDonald's seven trips have been compiled. Relevant excerpts and original research further contextualize and illuminate the artist’s practices for specific sketches wherever possible.

This book is produced in conjunction with a 2024 exhibition at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff, Alberta. 

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