Newspaper article The Canadian Press

From Basement to Auction: Owner Says Thomson Painting 'Doesn't Look like Much'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

From Basement to Auction: Owner Says Thomson Painting 'Doesn't Look like Much'

Article excerpt

Thomson painting goes from basement to auction


Many of Tom Thomson's paintings hang in the hallowed halls of Canada's finest galleries, but until recently, one of his sketches was collecting dust among a pile of artworks in an Edmonton grandmother's basement.

Glenna Gardiner, a 71-year-old retired nurse, said she used to laugh off her late father's claims that the painting that has been in her family for some 80 years was created by Thomson, who is often considered the forefather to the Group of Seven.

The heirloom's supposed origins became a running joke between Gardiner and a longtime friend, who insisted the work was authentic, so she gave it to her as a gag gift for her birthday.

Her friend had the painting assessed by the Heffel Fine Art Auction House, where experts verified the attribution to Thomson and valued the sketch between $125,000 to $175,000 on the auction market.

Even with a six-figure pricetag, Gardiner said she doesn't see what all of the fuss is about.

"Have you seen the painting? It doesn't look like much," she said in a phone interview. "It never really took my fancy."

The oil painting of Algonquin Park's temperamental landscape was sketched by Thomson on location in 1913, according to Heffel vice-president Robert Heffel. Heffel said the roughly 18-by-25-centimetre sketch was later adapted onto a larger canvas in "Lake in Algonquin Park," a painting in the National Gallery of Canada's collection.

In "Sketch for Lake in Algonquin Park," Thomson sets the choppy waters of the lake against a backdrop of rolling hills, green foliage and a swirling blue and off-white sky.

The Canadian Conservation Institute determined that one of the white pigments used in the painting has only been found in works by Thomson and the Group of Seven, said Heffel, which strongly supports the attribution. But all one needs to do is see the painting in person to recognize Thomson's skillful hand, he added.

"Any time we have a Thomson consigned to one of our live auctions is a great day. Thomsons are very rare in the market because he passed away so young in 1917," he said, referring to the artist's untimely death in Algonquin Park at age 39. …

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