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 Carl Fellman Schaefer  (1903 - 1995)

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Lived/Active: Ontario / Canada      Known for: regionalist landscape painting, teaching

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Carl Schafer is primarily known as Carl Fellman Schaefer

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Ad Code: 3
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from Auction House Records.
White Pines
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Carl Fellman Schaefer, C.M., D.Litt., R.C.A., CGP, CSGA, CSPWC, OSA, PDCC, RSA

Born in Hanover, Ontario, 30 April 1903
Died in Toronto, Ontario, 21 May 1995

“There is one thing every painter must do and this is to know his environment ….. and achieve a proper balance between the technical means and the emotional expression.”
(Carl Schaefer)

Carl Schaefer, a Canadian regionalist artist and teacher, painted scenes of rural southern Ontario. The farm environment of Grey County and his personal relationship to the land inspired his best work.

Schaefer studied at the Ontario College of Art from 1921 under the Group of Seven painters, Arthur Lismer and J.E.H. MacDonald. He later free-lanced as a commercial artist. In 1930, Schaefer began teaching at the Central Technical School in Toronto. During the Depression, Schaefer returned with his family on his holidays to Hanover. From 1948 to 1970, he taught at OCA (Ontario College of Art).

In his earliest works, Schaefer showed a great interest in such Northern European sixteenth century painters as Pieter Bruegel. From 1932-42 his work was marked by a transition from a decorative/ geometric style to a realistic, occasionally allegorical approach to landscape and still life.

In 1937, stimulated by an interest in drawing, Schaefer turned to watercolour, a medium that had the added advantages of speed, immediacy, and low cost.

From 1943 – 46, Schaefer worked as an official war artist with the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force). This experience darkened his vision, but by the 1950s he was again painting in a broad, lyrical spirit in the countryside around Hanover and in neighboring Wellington and Waterloo counties.

During his lifetime, Schaefer was the recipient of numerous awards and honors.

Source: Courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada.


In 1940 he received a Guggenheim Award, in 1967 the Canada Centennial Medal (1967), and in 1976 Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, from the University of Waterloo, Ontario.

Sources: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists" (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references); and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation -

On October 18, 1978, Carl Schaefer was awarded one of Canada’s highest honors – the Order of Canada CM.

The citation reads:

“For his contributions to Canadian art as a leader of the generation of painters following the Group of Seven and as war artist in the Second World War. For many years he was an influential teacher at the Ontario College of Art, Toronto.”  

Source: Governor General of Canada –


His mediums included oil, watercolor, pencil, charcoal, ink, gouache, woodblock print and linocut*. His subjects were landscapes, portraits, genre*, figures, Indians, farm life, houses and war. His styles were Realism* and Fauvism*. AskART have some good illustrations of his work.

Source: Canadian Heritage Information Network (see AskART glossary).


Schaefer was a member of the Canadian Group of Painters*, the Ontario Society of Artists*, the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts*, the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour*,  the Canadian Society of Graphic Artists*,  the Print and Drawing Council of Canada*, and the Royal Scottish Academy.

He also exhibited with the Group of Seven* in 1928 and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1955.

Source: "The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction" (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar; and "The Group of Seven – Art for a Nation” (1995), by Charles C. Hill (see AskART book references).


Schaefer’s works have been included in several important Canadian exhibitions including: "A Century of Canadian Art", Tate Gallery, London, England (1938); the New York World’s Fair (1939); “Three Hundred Years of Canadian Art”, National Gallery of Canada (1967); “Canadian Painting in the Thirties”, National Gallery of Canada (1975); “A Terrible Beauty: The Art of Canada at War”, Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, Ontario and touring (1977);  “Heroes and Heroines”, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1978); “The Canadian Landscape”, Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris (1984); “The 1940s: a decade of painting in Ontario”, Art Gallery of Ontario (1985);  “Permeable Border: Art of Canada and the United States 1920 – 1940”, Art Gallery of Ontario (1989); “The Group of Seven – Art For A Nation”, National Gallery of Canada (1995); and “Canvas of War: Painting the Canadian Experience, 1914 to 1945”, Art Gallery of Ontario (2001 – 2002).


He’s also had solo exhibitions at Museum London, Ontario (1970 and 2008); Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, Ontario (1976); and the National Gallery of Canada (1999).   

Sources: Art Gallery of Ontario archives (online); "The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction" (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references).


Hundreds of Schaefer’s works are in Canadian museums. They include: the Winnipeg Art Gallery (Manitoba),  Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ontario), Robert McLaughlin Gallery (Oshawa, Ontario), Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (B.C.), Ottawa Art Gallery [Firestone Art Collection*] (Ontario), Glenbow Museum (Calgary, Alberta), McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Kleinburg, Ontario), Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery (Concordia University, Montreal), Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery (Owen Sound, Ontario), The Market Gallery (Toronto), and Museum London (Ontario). The National Gallery of Canada has 105 Carl Schaefer works in its collection and the Canadian War Museum (Ottawa) 225.

Source: Canadian Heritage Information Network (see AskART glossary).

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.


** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
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