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"Thomas John (Tom) Thomson 1877 - 1917 Canadian
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"Thomas John (Tom) Thomson 1877 - 1917 Canadian oil on panel Early Spring, Canoe Lake" "8 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches 21.6 x 26.7 centimeters inscribed """"Tom Thomson 1917, authenticated and certified by J.E.H. MacDonald, Aug. '21 [indistinct date]"""" and on verso inscribed with a drawing of a bird with colour notes """"Metal blue, orange, brown, old ivory"""", also """"J.S. Fraser"""" / """"Mowat Lodge / Canoe Lake"""" / """"Mowat P.O., Ont."""" and numbered on a label """"T. 37"""" / """"Geo. Chubb"""" Literature:Harold Town and David P. Silcox, Tom Thomson, The Silence and the Storm, 1977, reproduced page 191 Dundurn Press Books, promotional pamphlet 1994 - 1995, including Joan Murray's 1994 book Tom Thomson: The Last Spring, reproduced on the cover and page 1 Joan Murray, Tom Thomson: The Last Spring, 1994, reproduced front cover and page 31 Joan Murray, Tom Thomson: Design for a Canadian Hero, 1998, reproduced page 79 Provenance:J. Shannon Fraser, Canoe Lake, Ontario George W. Chubb, Algonquin Park / Toronto Estate of eorge W. Chubb Waddington's, Toronto, May 17, 1967, lot 50 G. Blair Laing Limited, Toronto Acquired from the above by the present Private Collector, Toronto, 1968 Exhibited:Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, Tom Thomson: The Last Spring, May 4, 1995 - January 7, 1996, traveling to the McCord Museum of Canadian History, Montreal, the Glenbow Museum, Calgary and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, 1996 - 1997, catalogue #5 This vibrant depiction of spring in Algonquin Park is one of the most beautiful of Tom Thomson's paintings. An outstanding example of his work, the sketch reveals the spontaneous brushwork and rich chromatic range Thomson discovered through his study of the seasons en plein air in the northland. He had arrived at Canoe Lake early in April eager to paint the snow in the bush and the breaking-up of the ice on the lakes. The receding snow and partially frozen lake of this sketch indicate that he probably painted it shortly after he came to the Park and before April 21, when we now from a letter he wrote to his friend and patron Dr. James MacCallum that a heavy thunderstorm had cleared off most of the snow, except for remnants in the bush on the north sides of the hills and in the swamps. Late in May he was joined by MacCallum and his son Arthur for a fishing trip. Thomson died - no one knows how - that July. Thomson's grasp of the essential tenets of painting was a dramatic departure from the traditional academic training of friends such as Lawren Harris. Occasionally, as in the lengthy trunk of the tree at right, which is cut off by the top of the sketch, he drew upon his background in design in commercial art. However, his feeling for colour and the delicacy of brushwork is his own. In the sketch, Thomson let touches of vivid colour stand for entire bushes and trees, rather than detailing each individual form. It is clear that he worked quickly to execute this work; trails of paint run between the marks made by his brush 92 years ago, giving it the freshness of yesterday. A well, he let the surface of the wooden board show through the paint so that the material itself worked for him. This is a critical part of the painting, wherein the colour of the support joins the palette as a whole, and a trait that would later appear often in the plein air work of members of the Group of Seven, further evidence of his inspiration for them. Thomson applied thick paint for the pinks, greys and creams of the snow and created a sense of distance using firm brushwork for the dark shapes of islands and hills. The lightly interwoven strokes of pink, green and blue of the sky undulate in repeating, wave-like ripples. This upper quadrant of the work, deceptively simple in colour and brushwork, is very fine, and shows us his mastery of colour. In Early Spring, Canoe Lake, Thomson's colours have a subtle variety but all are set off by the delicate use of ultramarine blue, used sparingly but to great effect. A sweeping, rhythmic feeling of movement runs throughout the work, carried initially by he low bushes, followed by the ultramarine highlights, and echoed in the sky. The energy of the work, its sense of a vast new world, suggests Thomson's excitement over his experience of this miraculous time of renewal, new growth and regeneration - spring. As Harris wrote in his 1964 account of the founding of the Group of Seven (he called it "The Story of the Group of Seven""""), "His [Thomson's] last summer saw him produce his finest work." Shannon and Annie Fraser, the original owners of the work, owned and operated Mowat Lodge, a tourist resort, where Thomson stayed. George W. Chubb ("Chubby"), who bought the work from them, worked as their bookkeeper and assistant. He met Thomson in the spring of 1915. We thank Joan Murray for contributing the above essay. This work will be included in Joan Murray's forthcoming catalogue raisonné on the artist's work. The consignor will donate the proceeds from the sale of this work to Canadian charities. "
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