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The Art of Season’s Greetings 6: Artists and the Landscape II

(Added 14 December 2008)

“Naturally, when the well-known Canadian artists were called upon to design a series of greeting cards, they produced a group of pictures that might be described as a miniature impression of the general trend of art in Canada to-day. In that one respect at least, they are the most distinctively national greeting cards in existence.”

From the perspective of initiators A.Y. Jackson and Rous and Mann, Ltd., the Canadian Artists Series Christmas cards were a vehicle for distributing the new nationalist art seen as based on the wilderness landscape. However, the images on the cards actually showed much more domestic imagery than this school promoted. The participation of women and Quebec Regionalist artists in the project served to “domesticate” the landscape, showing scenes with figures, sleighs and farmsteads. Furthermore, women were the primary purchasers and those to whom the cards were marketed, and even images by members of the Group contained these quaint elements in response to this demand. The cards sold well between 1922 and 1937 in Canada. On behalf of their families, women sent these cards out to friends and family in Canada and abroad. Thus, rather than strictly promoting the Canadian art of the Toronto modernist aesthetic, these cards actually served to widen the imagery presented as “Canadian art” at this time.

Fred Jacob, “Canada’s Own Christmas Cards,” Canadian Homes and Gardens, (Dec. 1926): 35.

Image: Paul Alfred, Canadian Artists Series, Rous and Mann, Ltd., n.d., Joan Murray Fonds, Library and Archives Canada.

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