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J.E.H. MacDonald Up Close

J.E.H. MacDonald Up Close

216 pages
Published:   January 16, 2024
Non-Fiction  /  Art & Architecture
Paperback:   9781773104157    $35.00

At the height of his career, J.E.H. MacDonald’s paintings and oil sketches reveal a mastery of colour mixing, a sureness of brushstroke, and a deep understanding of compositional design. His striking landscapes and views of nature are an important artistic legacy and confirm his essential place among the Group of Seven painters.

J.E.H. MacDonald Up Close provides a fresh interpretation of MacDonald’s artistic development and sheds new light on questions of authenticity and dating surrounding MacDonald’s paintings. Here art conservation experts Kate Helwig and Alison Douglas combine rigorous scientific analysis with a close visual examination of MacDonald’s work to focus on his materials and techniques. Exploring the interface between art history and science, Helwig and Douglas use excerpts from MacDonald’s diaries, letters, and lectures to provide socio-historical context to their in-depth reading of the paintings as physical objects.

Helwig and Douglas’s fascinating text is accompanied not only by reproductions of key artworks, but also by never-before-seen photographs taken through a microscope. These unique, close-up views of MacDonald’s working methods reveal the texture of his brushstrokes and the characteristic ways he layered and mixed his paint.
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Kate Helwig, M.Sc., M.A.C, is a senior conservation scientist at the Canadian Conservation Institute in Ottawa, Ontario.

Alison Douglas, B.F.A., M.A.C., is the conservator at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario.


“Thorough in its meshing of art and science, this is ‘CSI’ in a creative space.” — Miramichi Reader

“This book represents detective work at its finest — a thorough investigation into what MacDonald did and how he did it. The information here will be invaluable in the restoration of his works, as well as in the authentication of any new discoveries that might emerge from someone’s attic.” — Times Colonist