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NO110 (14)
Lecture 5

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North American Studies
Kevin Spooner

Week 5: Tom Thomson and Emily Carr February 6, 2013 Tom Thomson (1877-1917)  6 of ten children in Owensound  Gifted artist and musician – drawing and painting  Sickly, never went to high school  Went on to business school in Seattle – worked as a commercial artist  “Transnational” Tom  Leaves Seattle after a failed romance with a younger woman  He proposes, she begins to giggle so he takes it as a no and leaves town – back to Canada  Back in Toronto he attends night school and develops technical skills to become artist, not just commercially  J.E.H MacDonald was his mentor at Grip Ltd.  Back from fishing trip, brings back sketches and paintings – revealed a vision of expansive wilderness untouched by humanity  1913/14 – “A Northern Lake” – first major painting, bought by the Ontario government for $250  In 1914, goes back to Algonquin park with Frederick Varley, Arthur Lismer and A.Y. Jackson o Begins to evolve type of landscape art o This type of art becomes basis for the style that lays the groundwork that the Group of Seven will embrace o Deliberately creating a “Canadian Consciousness” – link between identity and art  Every spring and every fall, sketching in Algonquin – summer works as a guide in the park – winter returns to Toronto  When he dies – leaves behind 50 paintings and more than 300 sketches o Becomes iconic images of Canadian nature o Increased extraordinarily in value o In 2008, his paintings went for millions of dollars  Mystery still surrounds his death o July 8 1917 o Goes on fishing trip in canoe lake o Week later body is found floating o Recorded death at time = accidental drowning o Coroner decides it is accidental without ever witnessing the body o Was it suicide? Murder? o More recent review by Ontario‟s chief forensic pathologist  Death should have been determined „unknown”  Roy MacGreggor – “Northern Light”  Trainer was his fiancée and carrying his child at his time of death o She disappears into US after death, and comes back many months later  When he dies, friends decide to bury him on the spot  Thomson‟s family wanted body sent back to owensound o They were sent back an empty coffin  1950s, guys decide to go and dig up his grave in canoe lake o Discover a skull with a noticeable hole inside of it o Skull was of a young aboriginal Canadian o Since then, scientists have found that it was of a white man about Thomson‟s age Emily Carr (1871-1945)  Her and Thomson never met  Associated with Group of Seven, about decade after Thomson‟s death  Born in Detroit – father was british immigrant, successful middle class family  Mother had tuberculosis and was bedridden – never close relationship  Very close relationship between her and her dad – argument in her teens and they become estranged – no parental figure past her teens  Sisters have no respect for her at all – isolated from them as well  “Transnational” Emily o Goes down to West Coast to San Francisco to learn artistic techniques o Goes to Europe, London, 1910 in France o Learns landscape and watercolor painting o Influenced by post-impressionism o Returns to British Columbia – begins 6 week sketching trip to document native Canadian culture o “disappearing first nations cultures” was one of two central themes in her work nd o 2 , was landscape of Western Canada  Paintings from her sketching trip don‟t really sell – makes the decision to abandon art and go back to Victoria to buy an apartment building and renting out rooms  15 years after coming back to Victoria, paintings begin to get wider attention  Invitation to go to the national gallery to display her work o Meets Loren Harris – member of Group of Seven o He becomes an important friend and supporter of her and her work o He says she is like a member of the Group of Seven o After this, enters her most productive painting stage  Gets very sick – 1937 major heart attack o Paints less and less, and focuses more on writing o In her lifetime, more known for her
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