Every country has its legendary artists. When you think of iconic British artists, names like JMW Turner and William Hogarth may come to mind. For the USA, the most famous recognized names would undoubtedly be such artists as Jackson Pollock, Norman Rockwell, and Andy Warhol. Canada has had many influential artists, but none have had the impact on Canadian art which Tom Thomson had. I realize there may be some readers who have not even heard of Tom Thomson, especially those from other parts of the world. So, I will give you a brief background on Tom Thomson, and also give you an opportunity to let us know about your own favourite artists at the end of this article.
Tom Thomson was born in Claremont, Ontario, Canada in 1877 and died under mysterious circumstances at the young age of 39. His body was found in Canoe Lake (Algonquin Park) 8 days after he disappeared there. The cause of death had been ruled as drowning, but there were questions to how he died. Some even claimed that he had been murdered, while others said it may have been suicide - he suffered from depression because of the failure to sell many paintings. Whatever the reason, the speculation has only served to add to the mystique of Tom Thomson’s short lived life.
Tom Thomson - Canada’s Van Gogh
He has been touted by some as Canada’s Van Gogh. Not only did Thomson die young and had little notoriety during life, but his paintings had the same energy and vibrancy as Van Gogh’s paintings. Ever since his death, his work has had a huge impact on Canadian art. The Group of Seven formed after his death, including painters all directly influenced by Tom Thompson. Even today, many Canadian artists, myself included, list Tom Thomson as one of their artistic influences.
Oil Painting Sketches
Tom Thomson was mainly a self taught artist. He did draw and paint from an early age, but he didn’t paint full time until his mid thirties. In the last five years of his life, he painted hundreds of small plein air oil painting sketches on small panels (some displayed on this page), most of them now considered the finest artworks every created by a Canadian artist. Many of these sketches were turned into full scale artworks later on in his studio.
Tom Thomson’s Influence on Canadian Art
Thomson’s paintings has had an influence on many of the famous Canadian painters who came after. Some of the painters from the Group of Seven painted the same plein air subjects and in a style emulating Thomson.
Other artists that have been influenced by Thomson are Joyce Wieland, Emily Carr, and Harold Town. His artwork now resides in such places as the Art Gallery of Ontario, The National Gallery of Canada, etc.
Share with Us Your Favourite Historical Artists
What is your favourite artist from art history? If there is one which you feel a connection to or have been influenced by, please share it with us. Either leave a comment below, or submit a guest post. All guest posters will receive a free link to their website!