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John Lyman

Haying by the Lake


John Lyman
Biddeford, Maine, 1886 – Kingsley, Barbados, 1967


Haying by the Lake




Oil on canvas


45.7 x 55.9 cm


Gift of Thornton Grier, inv. 1939.700


Quebec and Canadian Art

In the years before the mid-1930s, John Lyman, the Contemporary Arts Society’s founder, was considered the champion and primary spokesperson for Montreal’s non-academic artists. At the time, this painting, which he exhibited in 1936 in New York, and then in 1937 and 1939 in Montreal, was the first to be acquired by the Art Association of Montreal (now the MMFA). It is one of a series of landscapes entitled “Variations on the Lake,” which he painted in Saint-Jovite. Its idyllic view of the undulating forms of classic country scenery is in contrast with the harshness of the untouched landscapes painted by the members of the Group of Seven. In Lyman’s mind, establishing a hierarchy between subject and form, or linking artistic quality to the very nature of the subject – to be specific, a typically Canadian subject – was to mistake the container for the content.

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