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 William John Wood  (1877 - 1954)

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Lived/Active: Ontario / Canada      Known for: genre, figure and portrait painting, drawing, printmaking

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
William John Wood ALCT, CGP, CPE, CSGA (1877 - 1954)

A prominent Canadian painter, draftsman and printmaker, William John Wood (aka: W.J. Wood) was born in Ottawa, Ontario and died in Midland, Ontario, where he had lived since 1913. He exhibited twice with the Group of Seven*, he was a founding member of the Canadian Group of Painters*, and hundreds of his works are in the collections of several major Canadian museums including the National Gallery of Canada. (1)

His mediums included oil, watercolor, gouache*, graphite, ink, etching* and linocut*. His subjects were landscapes, portraits, interiors, figures, nudes, street scenes and genre. His styles were Impressionism, Plein Air*, Fauvism* and Realism*. The AskART images are good illustrations of his work.

He was largely a self taught painter and printmaker. His formal art education includes studies at the Eric Pape School of Art*, Boston, Massachusetts (c.1900); and the Central Ontario School of Art and Design (now Ontario College of Art and Design University*), Toronto (1904 - 1905) where he studied under George A. Reid, William Cruikshank, Charles Manly and Robert Holmes. Wood was also influenced by the work of Swedish etcher Anders Zorn, and the members of the Group of Seven*, especially Franklin Carmichael and Arthur Lismer. (2)

Wood was a member of the Arts & Letters Club of Toronto (c.1912), the Canadian Society of Graphic Art* (1913), the Canadian Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers (1920), and the Canadian Group of Painters* (1933).

He exhibited with the Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto (1912 - 1939); the Canadian Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers (1920 - 1950); the Ontario Society of Artists* (c. 1920 - 1932); the Group of Seven (1923 and 1928); the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* (1931); the Art Association of Montreal [now Montreal Museum of Fine Arts] (1931 - 1951); and the Canadian Group of Painters (1936, 1939 and 1947). (3)

His works were also included in the "British Empire Exposition", Wembley, England (1924); the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial Exhibition, Philadelphia (1926); the Exhibition of Canadian Art, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1929, 1931 and 1933); "The Group of Seven: Art for a Nation", National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1995); and in  "The New North: W.J. Wood and the Group of Seven", MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario (2005).

Wood was the subject of solo exhibitions at the Arts & Letters Club of Toronto (1913); the Huronia Museum, Midland, Ontario (1954); Hart House, Toronto (1972); McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario (1973); and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1983).

According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum websites, his works are in the permanent collections of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario), Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (B.C.), Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ontario), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Art Gallery of Windsor (Ontario), McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Kleinburg, Ontario), Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), The Market Gallery (Toronto), and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa).
(1) Wood is described by some sources as an amateur artist who supported himself as a laborer in various occupations. He also lived in several cities and towns. He grew up on a farm near Port Colborne, Ontario. He left the farm in about 1900; from then on his occupations included sailor (Great Lakes), construction worker (Washago, Ontario), illustrator for the Temiskaming Herald (Heaslip, Ontario), carriage painter (Orillia, Ontario), and shipyard worker (Midland, Ontario). Sometime between 1900 and 1913 he also lived and worked in Boston, Massachusetts; Galveston, Texas; Toledo, Ohio; Crowsnest Pass, Alberta; and Portage La Prairie, Manitoba. In World War I, he served overseas (England is noted) in the 157th battalion of the Canadian Army from 1915 to 1918. Sources: Judith Parker, Canadian Heritage Information Network*; and "Creative Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth Century Creative and Performing Arts" (1972), by Helen M. Rodney (see AskART book references).

(2) Please note: All artists mentioned in this biography and its footnotes have their own records in AskART.

(3) In the 1923 Group of Seven show Wood was included as "the seventh of the seven" filling the space left by Frank Johnston who quit the group in 1922. The show toured the USA, visiting Kansas City (MO), Omaha (NE), Milwaukee (WI), Providence (RI), Worcester (MA), and Brooklyn (NY). In the 1928 show, at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now Art Gallery of Ontario), Wood was one of 19 invited guest exhibitors. Source: "The Group of Seven: Art for a Nation" (1995), by Charles C. Hill (see AskART book references).
Biographical Index of Artists in Canada (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann (see AskART book references)

The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references)

The Group of Seven: Art for a Nation (1995), by Charles C. Hill (see AskART book references)

Art and Architecture in Canada (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson (see AskART book references)

The Canadian Encyclopedia Second Edition (1988), edited by James H. Marsh (see AskART book references)

Royal Canadian Academy of Arts: Exhibitions and Members, 1880 - 1979 (1981), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references)

Painting in Canada: a history (1977), by J. Russell Harper (see AskART book references)

Creative Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth Century Creative and Performing Arts (1972), by Helen M. Rodney (see AskART book references)

Four Decades: The Canadian Group of Painters and their contemporaries - 1930 - 1970" (1972), by Paul Duval (see AskART book references)

Art Gallery of Ontario - The Canadian Collection (1970), by Helen Pepall Bradfield (see AskART book references)

The National Gallery of Canada: Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture, Volume III (1960), by R.H. Hubbard (see AskART book references)

The Fine Arts in Canada (1925), by Newton MacTavish (see AskART book references)

Canadian Heritage Information Network* (biography, museums)

Art Gallery of Ontario (book and catalogue summaries online)

Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art* (OSA exhibitions)

* 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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