I love a good murder mystery. But you never think artists are involved in such mysteries. Artists are too busy doing their art in solitude. So I bought an out of print book at the Strand bookstore in Union Square New York. This artist, Tom Thomson’s paintings were mesmerizing!!! “The Best of Tom Thomson” by Joan Murray (1986) is the book I bought and I never read the book and just looked at the pictures. I do that a lot. Then I decided to read about him as a possible blog post. Well it turns out Tom Thomson’s story ends with his mysterious death that has never been solved even with the coroner’s report of accidental drowning. His death has been researched for decades and many conspiracy theories have been written about. So WHO IS TOM THOMSON?
This is a story of a talented artist who could never believe in his talent.
ITS A STORY OF A TORTURED MIND OF DOUBT.
He would refer to himself as the “Bum Artist “. When visitors came to see his work in his studio he would welcome them with “Come in and see my junk”.
Tom Thomson did acquire iconic status as a wilderness painter in Canada even before his tragic death in 1917.
He is considered the most influential painter of the 20th Century. It was Thomson’s style that inspired the creation of the GROUP OF SEVEN “ wilderness landscape painters in 1920.
His best known paintings are “THE WEST WIND” and “THE JACK PINE ” shown below.
THE WEST WIND oil on canvas
THE JACK PINE 1916-17 oil on canvas
Tom Thomson has been called the Van Gogh of Canada. He was tall, dark and handsome always far too shy and humble. And his death came much too soon at the age of 39.
My next post on Tom Thomson’s death and how it continues to be a mystery centuries after will delve into the many theories.
Resources: www.wikipedia.com. http://Www.canadianmysteries.ca
MORE SHALL BE REVEALED.
I love history and art. But I had never heard this amazing story of a slave who became a professional portrait painter in 18th century America. I found the story on OUT OF THE ARCHIVES – a blog exploring the Archives at the Hingham Heritage Museum.
Henry Barnes was a distiller and manufacturer of pearl ash. He and Christian were members of Marlborough’s financial elite and in the early 1770’s owned 3 slaves. Prince was the son of their slave Daphney. I’m not sure when Prince’s artistic talent became known but eventually he was supported by Christian Barnes who seeing his genius had Henry purchase Prince with a view towards improving his genius in painting “.
PORTRAIT OF CHRISTIAN BARNES BY PRINCE DEMAH BARNES
In a letter by Christian she writes:
“Prince is here and I am sitting to him for my picture.”
A month later in November 1769 Prince is purchased by Henry Barnes with the intention to educate and improve his talent.
HENRY BARNES BY PRINCE DEMAH BARNES
In 1770 Christian Barnes wrote:
Prince is “a most surprising instance of the force of natural genius for without the least instruction or improvement he has taken several faces which are thought to be very well done. He has taken a copy of my picture which I think has more resemblance than Coping’s. [sic]. She is referring to the famous 18th century portrait painter John Singleton Copley.
So Prince is the first African-American professional artist in America! For approximately 10 years he had a career as an artist. When the Revolution came the Barnes fled and Prince enlisted in the Massachusetts militia as a free man. He was now called Prince Demah (removing “Barnes “). He died from either smallpox or another disease on March 1778. In his will he left all he had to his mother Daphney.
PORTRAIT OF WILLIAM DUGUID BY PRINCE DEMAH
An amazing artist story. Never judge a person by the color of their skin but by the content of their character!!!
I woke up this morning and I realized that all my life when I see the word THANKSGIVING my mind conjures up visions of a big turkey tons of food. Being tortured by my drunk uncle making jokes about me being chubby. Never felt like I belonged in this family. I believe an alien species delivered me to them. Sort of a strange version of the birth of Christ. Not that I am the daughter of God.
My whole life was spent trying to sleep through holidays but especially this day. It’s not the turkey saying Gobble Gobble it was me doing the Gobble to avoid being uncomfortable around people. The morning after I experienced a food hangover and was resigned to wearing elastic waistbands for a week. Of course with that comes LOW SELF ESTEEM. That usually lasts longer running to the gym daily doing 2 hour workouts.
STOP!!! I want today to be different. I am renaming today GRATITUDE GIVING DAY!!
Today is the day I will be grateful for everything about the truth of this celebration. And then I started to research the story of the humble Pilgrims engaging happily with Native Indians. As one 5th grader said they were “Besties”. Not true kids. Here’s the lowdown. My history books lied.
These foreign intruders moved into Plymouth and took over. They would go through Indian homes taking whatever they wanted and left some beads in exchange. They dug up Indian burial sites. When they found bowls, trinkets, trays that were buried with the bodies it was up for grabs to them. The friendly Pilgrims removed all the beautiful objects for their own. They left the upturned burial site with exposed dead Indian bodies destroyed. NICE!! HAPPY THANKSGIVING FOLKS???
Alright I don’t want to dredge up bad memories. America has been playing the THANKSGIVING GAME too long for me to bring up truth. I want to celebrate the country with my friends here today and thank them for being my friends.
THANK YOU ALL WHO CELEBRATE HUMANITY AND WE CAN MAKE AMERICA GREATER BY NOT DRINKING THE KOOL AID!!!!