Canadian Art Selling for Record Prices!

View From a Height, Algonquin Park'

“View from a Height, Algonquin Park” by Tom Thomson

Artist Tom Thomson has been in the news, selling three paintings in the past month for $1 million or more.

The latest sale came in Toronto, where “View From a Height, Algonquin Park” achieved Thomson’s third highest sale at $1,207,500.

An oil painting, “Pine Trees at Sunset,” produced in 1916, was Thomson’s highest earner yet at nearly $2 million. “Tamarack Swamp (Sketch #5)” previously sold in Vancouver for around $1 million, kicking off this new wave of interest in Thomson’s work.

Just six years ago, Thomson’s record was about $250,000. The soaring prices are a result of an upswing in the Canadian art market, proving that Canadian art is undervalued, a sentiment that Canadian dealers have long shared.

One of the first painters to focus on the Canadian landscape, Thomson favoured Northern Ontario’s Algonquin Park, where he worked as a tour guide. He painted in a style that would heavily influence the work of the Group of Seven, which he joined in the early 1910s.

The group originally consisted of Thomson, J. E. H. MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, Frederick Varley, Frank Johnston and Franklin Carmichael, who met as employees of the design firm Grip Ltd. in Toronto. In 1913, they were joined by A. Y. Jackson and Lawren Harris. They were strongly influenced by European Impressionism of the late Nineteenth Century, and often met at the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto to discuss their opinions and share their art.

The informal group was temporarily split up during the first World War. A further blow came in 1917 after Thomson’s untimely death at age 39 while canoeing in Algonquin Park. He left behind 50 canvases and more than 300 sketches

Other members the Group of Seven have also been selling at higher than expected prices recently. “Leaves and Flowers” by J.E.H. MacDonald sold at auction for $126,500, and A.Y. Jackson’s “Quebec Village, Winter,” an oil sketch painted circa 1925, sold for $138,000.

Tom Thomson was born near Claremont, Ontario and grew up in Leith, near Owen Sound. Picture This! carries the Group of Seven limited editions, which can be viewed here.

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© 2008 Rollie LaMarche for Picture This! framing & gallery