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JACKSON, Alexander Young (1882-1974)
Recent auction results 22-11-12 Radium Mine 28 x 36 in Oil $598,827 USD 19-11-08 Winter Afternoon 25 x 32 in Oil $707,705 USD 15-05-13 A Quebec Village 25 x 32.2 $544,388 USD
As a young boy, Jackson worked as an office boy for a lithograph company, after his father abandoned his family of six children. It was at this company that Jackson began his art training. In the evenings, he took classes at Montreal's Monument-National.
In 1905, Jackson worked his way to Europe on a cattle boat, returning by the same means and travelling on to Chicago. In Chicago, he joined a commercial art firm and took courses at the Art Institute of Chicago. He saved his earnings and, by 1907, was able to visit France to study Impressionism.
In France, Jackson decided to become a professional painter, studying at Paris' Académie Julian under J.P. Laurens. Some of his most important artistic development was at the Etaples art colony, which he first visited in 1908 with his New Zealand friend Eric Spencer Macky (1880–1958).
Jackson painted his “Paysage embrumée” then and, rather to his surprise, it was accepted by the Paris Salon.Returning in 1912, he stayed with the Australian Arthur Baker-Clack (1877–1955). From this period date the Neo-Impressionist “Sand dunes at Cucq” and “Autumn in Picardy”, which was bought by the National Gallery of Canada the following year.
When Jackson returned to Canada, he settled in Sweetsburg, Quebec, where he began painting works such as the Neo-Impressionist "The Edge of Maple Wood". He held his first single artist exhibition at the Montreal Art Gallery with Randolph Hewton in 1913. Unable to make ends meet and discouraged by the Canadian art scene, he considered moving to the United States. However, he received a letter from J. E. H. MacDonald which changed his mind. MacDonald inquired about The Edge of Maple Wood, which he had seen at a Toronto art show, informing Jackson that Toronto artist Lawren Harris wanted to purchase the painting if he still owned it.
After the purchase, Jackson struck up a correspondence with the two Toronto artists, often debating on topics related to Canadian art. Jackson soon began visiting Toronto, joining the painters who would one day be known as the Group of Seven on major trips to Algonquin Park, Georgian Bay, Algoma and the North Shore. Like the other Group of Seven painters, Jackson embraced landscape themes and sought to develop a bold style. An avid outdoorsman, Jackson became good friends with Tom Thomson, and the duo often fished and sketched together.
With the outbreak of World War I, Jackson enlisted in the Canadian Army's 60th battalion in 1915. Soon after he reached the front he was wounded at the Battle of Sanctuary Wood in June 1916 and found himself once more at Étaples in the hospital there. While recovering from his injuries, he came to the attention of Lord Beaverbrook. He was then transferred to the Canadian War Records branch as an artist. Here, Jackson would create important pictures of events connected with the war. He later worked for the Canadian War Memorials as an official war artist from 1917 to 1919.
After the war, Jackson returned to Toronto, often making painting expeditions to the lower St Lawrence, the Arctic, the Canadian Shield and British Columbia.
In 1919, Jackson and six painter colleagues formed the Group of Seven. These artists were considered to be bold, because the Canadian wilderness had previously been considered too rugged and wild to be painted. Although his name is conventionally associated with this group, he would also remain something of a loner throughout his life.
In 1925, he taught at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto; this was the only year that he missed his annual spring trip to Quebec.
In 1933, Jackson helped found the Canadian Group of Painters. Several members of the Group of Seven later became members of this group, including Lawren Harris, A. J. Casson, Arthur Lismer and Franklin Carmichael.
Jackson moved to the Ottawa region in 1955, settling in Manotick.
In his later years, he was often accompanied on his painting trips into the Ottawa Valley region, the Gatineau Hills, the Lievre River Valley and Ripond by friend, painter and former student Ralph Wallace Burton, and fellow painters Maurice Haycock and Stuart D. Helmsley.
One such venture almost ended in disaster: "...in the 1950s, when Ralph and A.Y. were painting on the banks of the Ottawa River at Deux Rivieres, a bullet ricoheted off a rock where Jackson was sitting."
In 1958, he published A Painter's Country, an autobiography dedicated to the memory of Group of Seven member J. E. H. MacDonald, who "visualized a Canadian school of painting and devoted his life to the realization of it".
In 1964, Jackson submitted his own design during the Great Flag Debate. It was similar in design to the Pearson Pennant.
In 1965, Jackson had a serious stroke that put an end to his painting career. He recuperated at the home of friend and painter Ralph Wallace Burton, and later moved to the McMichael Conservation Estate in Kleinburg, Ontario. Jackson died in 1974, over the Easter holiday in a nursing home in Toronto. He is buried on the grounds of the McMichael Gallery.