Figure 1 Publishing

Art + Design

To See What He Saw

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

Stanley Munn, Patricia Cucman
In collaboration with the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

“If the function of the artist is to see, the first duty of the critic is to understand what the artist saw.”
– J.E.H. MacDonald

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No other Canadian artist has been tracked to the exactness as observed by Stanley and Patricia. Together they have created a monumental tome that will astound, intrigue, and surprise academics, the art community, and the general public.

—Anne Ewen, Chief Curator of Art and Heritage, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

Interior book spread
Interior book spread
Interior book spread
Interior book spread
Interior book spread
Interior book spread
Interior book spread
Interior book spread
Interior book spread
Interior book spread
Landscape
Painting

Book Description

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.

Of interest to Group of Seven and Canadian art collectors, curators, historians, students, and enthusiasts alike, this book is produced in conjunction with a 2024 exhibition at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff, Alberta. To See What He Saw offers a comprehensive examination of this esteemed artist’s painting process, finished works, and mindset over this period, and provides a unique lens through which to view MacDonald’s O’Hara work—a perspective that has not previously been fully explored in exhibition or in publication.

Author

Press

“A nearly 20-year obsession and labour of love to track down the sites where iconic Canadian painter J.E.H. MacDonald created dozens of sketches and paintings”
Calgary Herald

“Brings visitors into MacDonald’s creative process through his diaries, letters, and artifacts”
Canadian Geographic

Upcoming Events

Fireside Chat with Chic Scott and Patricia Cucman
The Whyte Museum
June 27th, 7:00PM

Book Launch & Talk with Patricia Cucman
The Whyte Museum
September 21, 7:00PM

BOOK DETAILS

  • Hardcover
  • 10 × 12 inches
  • 360 pages
  • 492 illustrations
  • 978-1-77327-250-4
  • $65.00 CDN / $55.00 USD
  • June 2024