Tom Thomson (1877-1917). Paintings from the
Collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of
Tom Thomson was an outstanding Canadian landscape painter who drew the famous lakes, forest waterfalls, national parks and nature preserves of his country. Thomson's most famous works were done in the Algonquin Park, for example the study entitled An Old Abandoned Dam in Algonquin Park (spring of 1912, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa). Landscapes illuminated by different light and the changing seasons of the year are dominant themes in Thomson's work. A number of studies are included in the exhibition: Spring. The French River, Hill in Autumn, and White Hoarfrost All Nocture: Birch Trees three are from Ottawa.
After 1910 Thomson acquired his own style which organically combined the decorative features of Art Nouveau with the expressive qualities of post-Impressionist painting. During 1912 - 1913 he did small oil paintings on wood. In 1913 and 1914 he executed larger paintings such as Moonlight (Ottawa). Thomson was also a great master of winter landscapes and one can see at the exhibition his study Larry Dixon's Cabin (spring of 1914, Ottawa).
Sometimes Thomson put human figures in his landscapes: In the Maple Forest (Shannon Frazer), done in the spring of 1915, (The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto). He also worked in the animalist genre: Moose at Night, done in the winter of 1916 (Ottawa). An example of his still lifes is Daisies, Lilies and Wild Peas, done in the summer of 1916 (Toronto).
In his études Thomson preferred to portray morning (sketch for the painting Morning Cloud, summer 1913, Toronto), sunset (Sunset, summer of 1915, Ottawa) and the onset of nightfall (Nocturne: The Birches, spring of 1916, Ottawa).
Although his paintings present the wilderness of Canada, the Russian visitor to the exhibition will experience something familiar and close to hand. Thus Thomson's Sunset brings to mind a study of the same name by Arkhip Kuindzhi in St Petersburg's Russian Museum.Thomson's March (spring of 1916, Ottawa) and his winter landscapes may be compared with the paintings of Konstantin Yuon, Isaak Levitan or Igor Grabar. One of Thomson's last important works, The Jack Pine (winter of 1916-1917, Toronto) evokes associations with Russian painting, in particular with the works of the Vasnetsov brothers and Ivan Shishkin.
“homson was highly thought of by those who came after him, in particular the artists of the Group of Seven, who considered him as a legendary personality and national treasure. Lawren Harris, James MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, Alexander Jackson, Frederick Varley, Franklin Carmichael and Frank Johnston not only developed the various motifs of Thomson's landscape paintings but acquired his works on behalf of Canadian museums. Thomson's untimely death prevented him from becoming a full-fledged participant in this group. The artist died while on a boat making etudes. He drowned in the lake of Algonquin Park in 1917.
The exhibition presents 58 of Tom Thomson's best works from the collections of The Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto (15) and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa (43). In 1977 six paintings by Thomson from the McMichael Collection, Kleinberg, Ontario Province were exhibited in the Hermitage. Now visitors to the Hermitage can become acquainted with a unique anthology of Thomson's work including his masterpiece The West Wind (winter of 1916-1917, Toronto).
The exhibition has been organized by the State Hermitage together with The Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, and The Hermitage Foudation of Canada Inc., with sponsorship from Barrick Gold Corporation and the Department of Canadian Heritage Museums Assistance Program.