Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson - Canadian Artist

Path Behind Mowat Lodge Canvas Print by Tom Thomson
Path Behind Mowat Lodge Canvas Print
The Life, Death and Art of Famous Canadian Artist Tom Thomson

Tom Thomson is one of Canada's most famous Artists who died mysteriously, and whose death is still talked about today.
I can't quite put my finger on why I find the lives of famous artists so intriguing. However, I do think it has something to do with an artist's plight to fulfil their calling while their lives are plastered with difficultly. Added to the fact that, in many cases, their work isn't valued or appreciated until after they die - Upsetting and incredibly unfair.
Tom Thomson was absolutely one of those artists. He only lived to the age of 39 and died under mysterious circumstances.To this day the suspicious speculations of his death are still labelled inconclusive.
Northern Light
Tom Thomson:
Born: August 5, 1877, in Claremont, Ontario, Canada
Died: July 8, 1917 (aged 39), Canoe Lake, Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada

NORTHERN LIGHT - The enduring mystery of Tom Thomson and the woman who loved him - This is VERY Interesting!

The details of Tom Thomson's life story, Authored by Roy MacGregor in "Northern Light", are very intriguing. He speaks about Thomson's life as well as his untimely death and the mystery surrounding it.
If you appreciate the journey of artists you will enjoy listening to this.


Tom Thomson and The Group of Seven
Tom Thomson, The Early Years

At 22 years old he was an Apprentice at an Iron Foundry and was fired because he was always late. He then attempted to join the armed services that same year, but due to a medical condition was denied entry.

In 1901 he was accepted into Business College in Chatham, Ontario but dropped out after eight months to go to the business college his brother operated in Seattle, Washington. While in Seattle, he had a brief romance with Alice Lambert.

He returned to Canada in 1904 and in 1907 he joined a Toronto design firm named Grip Ltd where many of the future "Group of Seven" also worked.

The Group of Seven

The Group of Seven were a famous group of Canadian Landscape Painters in the 1920's. Tom Thomson was never an official member of the Group of Seven, however he is recognized as having greatly influenced them.
The members of the Group of Seven were, Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris, A. Y. Jackson, Franz Johnston, Arthur Lismer, J. E. H. MacDonald, and Frederick Varley.

Heffel's record $2,749,500.00 sale of Tom Thomson ~ Early Spring, Canoe Lake



Tom Thomson's Major Source of Inspiration & Art Career

Tom Thomson was inspired by Ontario's wilderness. His first visit to Algonquin Park was in 1912. That year he began working along side members of the Group of Seven at Rous and Mann Press, but he left later in the year to become his own full time artist.

His first exhibit was with the Ontario Society of Artists in 1913 and he later become a member in 1914. That same year the National Gallery of Canada purchased one of his paintings. His exhibits continued with the Ontario Society of Artists until his mysterious death in 1917.

He eventually moved to Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park. He worked as a fire fighter, ranger, and guide in Algonquin Park, but gave that up as he found it didn't give him enough time to paint. From 1914 to 1917 before he died, is when he created his most famous work; The Jack Pine, The West Wind and The Northern River.

Tom Thomson's Art & Artistic Talent

The Death of Tom Thomson
Tom Thomson was another one of those "mostly self taught" artists. He was very young when he began drawing and painting, but didn't pursue it as a career until he was in his thirties. Of course, his untimely death at the age of 39 would cut short the number of paintings he would become famous for.
He did produce hundreds of sketches between 1912 and 1917 (the year he died). Today these sketches are considered part of his portfolio of works and are featured in the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.
He transformed from Graphic Designer to Professional Painter, with the help of Dr. James MacCallum between 1914 and 1917.
Many of his famous paintings began as sketches and later evolved into large oil paintings at his "Studio". His studio was an old shack, with a wood stove on the grounds of Studio Building.
With his use of broad brush strokes and his liberal use of paint to capture color, his art resembles post-impressionists, Vincent Van Gogh & Paul Cezanne.
Thomson was provided the same level of respect and prominence as Renoir, Picasso and The Group of Seven in 2002 when the National Gallery of Canada staged a major exhibition of his art.

The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson

On July 8th, 1917 at the age of 39, Tom Thomson disappeared on a canoeing trip on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park. His body wasn't discovered until eight days later. Although there were reports that he had his fishing line wrapped around his feet seventeen times, and signs of a head injury, the official cause of death was deemed accidental.
The speculation on the cause of his death continues today. Numerous scenarios have been put forth, including murder and suicide. 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

7 comments:

  1. It's amazing how many poets and artists die young. I wonder what happened to him.

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    1. So true, I wonder as well? Looks like being a poet and artist is dangerous work too?

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  2. It does seem that artists have an unusually high rate of mysterious deaths. Interesting story. The canvas in your picture at the top is beautiful. (Pinned and tweeted!)

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  3. Interesting story about Canadian artist Tom Thomson. I had not ever heard of him before. One wonders just what was the cause of his death. Sounds suspiciously like foul play to me.

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  4. What an interesting, sad, and spooky story.

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  5. This is indeed very interesting and quite sad. 39 is so very young and I always hate to hear that someone's talent is really only recognized after their death. I wouldn't venture to guess what may have happened to the young man, but having his fishing line wrapped around his feet 17 times doesn't sound like an accident and I doubt anyone would commit suicide that way. Makes you wonder if calling it an accident was simply convenient. What a tragedy in so many ways.

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  6. so sad how many artists don't get recognized till they are gone! thankfully my husband does get recognition.

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