J.E.H. MacDonald

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In looking at the illustrations and designs created by the Group of Seven, one exceptional artist moves to the fore: J.E.H. MacDonald, the poet, painter and designer whose work was influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement. MacDonald was born in Durham, England and moved to Canada at the age of fourteen. He worked as a commercial artist for Toronto Lithography Company and then as a book designer for the Carlton Studio in London. When he returned from England, MacDonald became the head designer at Grip, and founding member of the Group of Seven. MacDonald was the poet of the group; a transcendentalist who read Whitman and Thoreau. His essays and poems appeared in a number of publications such as The Lamps, Canadian Forum and The Rebel. MacDonald believed that through nature, humanity reached a higher spiritual end. He was the most senior member of the Group, and played a strong leadership role for the other artists.