James Edward Hervey MacDonald was born in England but is considered a Canadian artist. His family moved to Hamilton Ontario in 1887. He was a member of the "Group of Seven", a collective of Canadian artists who are regarded as integral to the evolution of Canadian art.
He had an active career as a commercial artist, apprenticing at the Toronto Lithography Co. and working for Grip Limited in the capacity of a senior designer, starting in 1895. During his time with Grip Limited, he became friends with many of his staff members-some of whom would become part of the Group of Seven-and started organizing group painting excursions on the weekends. He painted landscapes all over Canada, including the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Nova Scotia and renderings of Lake Superior.
James Edward Hervey MacDonald, in both his paintings and is involvement with the Group of Seven, is considered to be one of the most innovative of the early 20th Century Canadian artists. His landscape paintings were sometimes rendered in an Abstract style and made heavy use of dark colors and a very kinetic feel.
He was involved in education, as well, serving as the principal of the Ontario College of Art in Toronto in 1929.