Cover Picture

Tom Thomson's Hills and Swirling Sky, 1915

in Art

As Tom's patron, Dr. J.M. MacCallum purchased this directly from Tom. James was selecting the best of the best for himself and also keeping Tom in art supplies and above the poverty line. The National Gallery of Canada purchased this record from Dr. MacCallum in 1918, a year after Tom passed. 

Certainly Dr. MacCallum named this painting. Tom didn't even sign it and the "TT 1917" stamp that J.E.H MacDonald designed can be seen on the lower right. Dr. MacCallum was probably running out of names...

What do we know? This is another skyscape with a low horizon. The back lit clouds are darker in the middle and ringed by brighter and whiter light. There is the characteristic white line of sun glint on the distant shore of the lake.

The lighting on the tree is significantly brighter on the left side even though Tom was looking at the shadowed side of everything including the tree. The light source was skewed a bit to the left in Tom's painting. 

Tom was looking toward the source of the light but it was very cloudy. Plein air painting was still possible even though he was looking into the light.

If we knew the time of day then we could be definitive as to his direction of view. Tom would have been looking slightly to the right of a direct line to the sun. Hmm, but I have a possible solution from the clouds.

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