Image: The Jack Pine
The Canadian painter Tom Thomson (1877-1917) was the forerunner of the Group of Seven, the national movement in landscape painting. He is best known as an interpreter of the Canadian wilderness.
Tom Thomson was born at Claremont, Ontario, not far from Toronto but was brought up at Leith on the shores of Georgian Bay. After an unpromising beginning as a machinist, he worked as a photoengraver in Seattle, Wash., from 1901 to 1904, when he returned to Canada. In 1907 Thomson joined the art department of Grip Limited in Toronto, where several of the men who after World War I formed the Group of Seven worked, among them J. E. H. MacDonald.
Each year, with growing mastery, Thomson charted the changing seasons in Algonquin Park with a steady stream of sketches, from dazzling impressions of sunlight on snow in March, the breakup of the ice in spring, the flaming sunsets and northern lights of summer, to the pageantry of autumn's reds and golds and the gathering snow clouds over the bleak November landscape. In winter he would return to his studio in Toronto to paint the large canvases for which he is best known. The flat pattern, swinging line, and rich texture of the larger pictures reflect the influence of the Art Nouveau style then in vogue; but in the original sketches the strong color, bold design, and rapid brushwork have a conviction and expressive force never equaled in paintings of the Canadian northland.