Tom Thomson

About Tom Thomson

Tom Thomson

Tom Thomson (1877 – 1917) was a renowned Canadian artist and outdoorsman who during his short career produced about 400 oil landscape sketches on small wood panels and about 50 larger paintings on canvas. Thomson’s paintings of the Ontario landscape especially of Algonquin Park are rendered in a distinctive style influenced in part by his work in graphic design. Thomson's accidental death at 39 by drowning came just before the founding of the Group of Seven. 

Raised in rural Ontario, Thomson was born into a large family of farmers but showed a preference for hunting and fishing. He worked several jobs before attending a business college, where he gained skills in penmanship and copper plate writing.  Thomson worked in Seattle and Toronto as a pen artist for leading graphic design firms, including Grip Ltd. There he met the artists who would form the Group of Seven including JEH MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, Frederick Varley. He met the rest of the Group members at the Arts and Letters Club in Toronto. In 1912, Thomson visited Algonquin Park for the first time and sketched the landscape. Over the next five years, he returned to the Park spending his winters in Toronto. Thomson’s paintings including The Jack Pine and The West Wind are culturally iconic Canadian images.

Although Thomson died before the formal establishment of the Group of Seven, he is often considered an unofficial member. His art is typically exhibited with the rest of the Group's, nearly all of which remains in Canada and can be found at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada, the McMichael Canadian Collection and the Tom Thomson Art Gallery.