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Lakes and River Landscapes by Tom Thomson

Tom Thomson, Northern River

“Northern River” by Tom Thomson

Lakes and River Landscapes by Tom Thomson

Tom Thomson was a Canadian artist whose works consist almost entirely of landscapes depicting trees, skies, lakes, and rivers. Our collection includes:

“Northern River” by Tom Thomson

“Northern River” by Tom Thomson was inspired by a sketch he completed in the winter of 1914 – 15. It is dominated by the foreground of dark trees, which partially obscures the view of the winding river flowing into the background.

It depicts a river in Algonquin Park, located between Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River in Ontario, Canada.

The painting was completed in Thomson’s home base in Toronto and was produced as he was entering the peak of his art career and is considered one of his most notable works.

Thomson affectionately referred to this painting as his “swamp picture.” This new motif of a dark screen of trees reappears in many of Thomson’s paintings.

“Northern River” by Tom Thomson

  • Title:                 Northern River
  • Artist:               Tom Thomson
  • Year:                 1915
  • Medium:          Oil on canvas
  • Genre:              Landscape art
  • Dimensions     115.1 × 102 cm (45.3 × 40.1 in)
  • Museum:         National Gallery of Canada

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Study for “Northern River” by Tom Thomson

Study for "Northern River" by Tom Thomson

Study for “Northern River” by Tom Thomson

The Study for “Northern River” by Tom Thomson was the artist’s first gouache study for the “Northern River” oil painting. The work was brightly colored because gouache reflects more light than oil on canvas.

To make the eventual studio painting livelier, Thomson included reds, oranges, and yellows within the foreground.

The final canvas closely follows the original study, however further foreground space was added to convey the depth, and the trees are more defined, with less foliage.

Thomson first visited Algonquin Park in 1912, venturing through the area on a canoe trip. Thomson’s transition from commercial art towards his original style of painting began to be apparent around this time.

This painting stands as a point of transition in Thomson’s art. This painting demonstrates his experimentation with color and texture rather than the precision and subdued nature of his earlier works.

Study for “Northern River” by Tom Thomson

  • Title:                 Study for Northern River
  • Artist:               Tom Thomson
  • Year:                1915
  • Medium:          Graphite, brush and ink and gouache on illustration board
  • Genre:              Landscape art
  • Dimensions     30 × 26.7 cm (11.8 × 10.5 in)
  • Museum:          Art Gallery of Ontario

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“The West Wind” by Tom Thomson

"The West Wind" by Tom Thomson

“The West Wind” by Tom Thomson

“The West Wind” by Tom Thomson is based on a slightly different sketch he produced in 1916 while working as a park ranger in Algonquin Park.

In this finished canvas, Thomson moved the pine further to the right, replaced a less defined foreground plane with strongly patterned rock shapes, and removed a dead tree limb from the ground.

Though not imposing in scale, the background is composed in an art-nouveau sensibility. It was painted in the last year of Thomson’s life and was one of his final works on canvas.

“The West Wind” by Tom Thomson

  • Title:                 The West Wind
  • Artist:                Tom Thomson
  • Year:                 1916 – 1917
  • Medium:           oil on canvas
  • Genre:               Landscape art
  • Dimensions      Height: 1,207 mm (47.51 in); Width: 1,379 mm (54.29 in)
  • Museum:          Art Gallery of Ontario

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“The Jack Pine” by Tom Thomson

The Jack Pine, by Tom Thomson

“The Jack Pine” by Tom Thomson

“The Jack Pine” by Tom Thomson is a representation of the most broadly distributed pine species in Canada. The painting depicts a jack pine as a decorative and abstracted pattern. Its shape is boldly simplified against the sunset.

Thomson’s stylization demonstrates his command of decorative effects, developed during his years as a graphic designer. The sky and lake are painted in long horizontal brushstrokes that show, along with its nearly square format.

The pine, with its branches bowed, rises from a rocky foreground. Thomson made the tree appear larger by lowering the hills on the far side of the lake.

The jack pine often takes root on shores hostile to other trees, its sparsely leaved branches forming unusual shapes. It is silhouetted against water and sky, with the canvas bisected by the far shore.

It is considered an iconic image of the country’s landscape and is one of the country’s most widely recognized and reproduced artworks.

The painting was completed in 1917, the year of Thomson’s death.

“The Jack Pine” by Tom Thomson

  • Title:                 The Jack Pine
  • Artist:                Tom Thomson
  • Year:                 1916–17
  • Medium:          Oil on canvas
  • Genre:              Landscape art
  • Dimensions     127.9 × 139.8 cm (50.3 × 55 in)
  • Museum:         National Gallery of Canada

Algonquin Provincial Park

Algonquin Provincial Park is a provincial park located in Ontario, Canada. Established in 1893, it is the oldest provincial park in Canada.

Its size, combined with its proximity to the major urban centers of Toronto and Ottawa, makes Algonquin one of the most popular provincial parks in the province and the country.

Over 2,400 lakes and 1,200 kilometers of streams and rivers are located within the park. Its unique mix of forest types, and the wide variety of environments in the park, allows the park to support a significant diversity of plant and animal species.

Tom Thomson

Thomas John Thomson (1877 – 1917) was a Canadian artist who, during his short career, produced about 400 oil sketches on small wood panels along with around 50 more significant works on canvas.

His works consist almost entirely of landscapes depicting trees, skies, lakes, and rivers.

His paintings use broad brush strokes and a liberal application of paint to capture the beauty and color of the Ontario landscape.

Tom Thomson

Highlights of the National Gallery of Canada

Highlights of Art Gallery of Ontario

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“Through other people’s faults, wise men correct their own.”
– Canadian Proverb

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Photo Credit: Tom Thomson / Public domain; Art Gallery of Ontario / Public domain

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