Tom Thomson

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Tom Thomson was a well-known Canadian painter and artist in the early twentieth century, and he was the driving force behind the establishment of the ‘Group of Seven,’ Canada’s first national school of art, in 1920. He returned to his homeland of Ontario, Ontario, to pursue a career in the arts after working at several odd jobs in Canada and the United States. He polished his creative abilities while working in several photo-engraving enterprises and began on weekend painting trips with a few of other daring painters until he found Algonquin Park, which became his painting center. This provincial park served as a major inspiration for his paintings and sketches on the outdoors. ‘The Northern River,’ ‘The Jack Pine,’ and ‘The West Wind’ are among his most popular paintings. He died suddenly at a time when he was only beginning to perfect his skill and gain respect. For his amazing representation of Canadian wilderness on canvas, his remarkable use of vivid colors, and straightforward interpretation of landscapes, he is regarded as one of Canada’s most accomplished artists. Art historians have praised and acknowledged him for brilliantly depicting the rough beauty of Algonquin Park in the early 1910s.

Childhood and Adolescence

Thomas John Thomson was born on August 5, 1877, near Claremont, Ontario, to farmers John Thomson and Margaret Mathewson as the sixth of ten children. His family moved to Rose Hill, near Leith, north-east of Owen Sound, when he was two months old, where he was raised.

Despite his illness, he finished his schooling at local schools and showed a keen interest in activities such as swimming, fishing, and hunting. His rural background pulled him closer to the arts and encouraged him to try his hand at sketching, music, and design. However, in keeping with his Scottish family’s custom, he was required to find work.

Career of Tom Thomson

He volunteered for the Second Boer War in 1899, but owing to his ill condition, he was unable to enroll. He was hired as a machine trainee at Kennedy’s iron foundry soon after, but was sacked after just eight months. He enrolled in the Canadian Business College in Chatham, Ontario, following in the footsteps of his two older brothers. After eight months, he quit out and travelled to Seattle, Washington, to assist his brother, George, in establishing the Acme Business College.

Following that, he began working as a commercial artist, which allowed him to hone his lettering and design talents.
In 1904, he went to Canada and worked as a senior artist for Legg Brothers, a photo-engraving studio in Toronto.
He left Legg Brothers in 1909 to join Grip Ltd., a well-known Toronto photograving business. J.E.H. MacDonald, the lead designer, aided him in honing his creative abilities and sharpening his design sense.

Franklin Carmichael, Arthur Lismer, Franz Johnson, and Fred Varley were among the many weekend painting trips to Toronto’s countryside that he took. In 1912, he took his first journey to Algonquin Park, which influenced much of his subsequent work. Following that, he and his team began to explore the territories surrounding Ontario. In 1912, he started working at Rous and Mann Press, a commercial painting studio, but quit a year later to pursue his dream of being a full-time artist. ‘A Northern Lake,’ his first significant painting, was shown in the Ontario Society of Artists exhibition in 1913. He became a member of the Society when the canvas was bought for $250 by the National Gallery of Canada.

At J.E.H. MacDonald’s studio, he met art lover Dr. James MacCullum, a renowned Toronto ophthalmologist, who volunteered to fund Thomson’s annual costs in order for him to spend more time to painting. Because he spent so much of his time traveling, he preferred to create oil drawings on small, rectangular panels that he could readily transport. Until his death, he created hundreds of little sketches using this approach.

He was unable to participate in the First World War owing to health issues in the summer of 1914, and hence was unable to go to Europe to serve as a war artist like his artist buddies. He lived in Algonquin Park from spring to autumn from 1914 to 1917, sketching in the spring and fall and worked as a guide and fire ranger in the summers, finally becoming a remarkable canoeist and woodsman.

He spent the winters in Toronto, sharing his Studio One, in the Studio Building, and quarters with fellow artist A.Y. Jackson, and subsequently, after Jackson departed, with Franklin Carmichael. He moved into a hut outside the Studio Building after that. Some of his greatest works are on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

‘The clearing,’ ‘Lake, coastline, and sky,’ ‘Tea Lake dam,’ ‘Blue Lake,’ ‘Sunset,’ ‘Spring ice,’ ‘The pool,’ and ‘In the northland’ are some of his most renowned works. ‘Petawawa gorges,’ ‘Northern lights,’ ‘Moose at night,’ Tamaracks, ‘The waterfall,’ ‘Woodland waterfall,’ and ‘The road’ are among his most popular sketches.

Major Projects of Tom Thomson

Three of his most popular pieces, ‘The Jack Pine,’ ‘The West Wind,’ and ‘The Northern River,’ were created using a unique approach of generating on-the-spot drawings and extending them into big oil completed studio paintings.

Personal History and Legacy

He met Alice Elinor Lambert in 1901, while residing in Seattle with his brother George, and they had a brief love engagement. He liked to go on paddling expeditions to Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park since he was an avid fisherman. He went missing on one of these trips on July 8, 1917, and his body was discovered floating in the lake eight days later.

Though his death was first attributed to accidental drowning, the truth of whether it was an accident, murder, or suicide remains a mystery to this day. On July 17, 1917, he was laid to rest in Mowat Cemetery near Canoe Lake. On July 21, however, at his brother George’s request, the corpse was removed and re-interred in the family plot close to Leith Presbyterian Church.

His tragic death left behind over 50 paintings and 300 drawings that were never published. In September 1917, J.E.H. MacDonald, Dr. MacCullum, and J.W. Beatty constructed a stone cairn as a monument on Hayhurst Point, overlooking Canoe Lake, where Thomson frequently camped. In 1967, the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery in Owen Sound opened as a memorial to this remarkable artist.

Estimated Net Worth

Tom is one of the wealthiest painters, as well as one of the most popular. Tom Thomson’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.