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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"The west wind" by Tom Thomson (1877-1917) MacHardy, Carolyn Wynne

Abstract

This thesis discusses Tom Thomson's (1877-1917) last and perhaps most famous canvas, "The West Wind". Chapter One considers the facts concerning the painting and its sketch and reviews the various hypotheses advanced concerning the dating of the two works and the site from which the sketch was done. In the absence of any specific documents concerning "The West Wind", it is necessary to refer to the testimonies of friends and acquaintances of Thomson, and occasionally to those of people whose interest in Thomson prompted them to individual research and speculation. It also outlines the history of both the sketch and the canvas following the death of Thomson in 1917 and problems concerning the title by which the canvas is known. Chapter Two is a stylistic analysis of a selection of sketches and the associated canvases. The aim of this chapter is to place "The West Wind" within the context of Thomson's previous work, outlining the development of his style, subject matter and technique. The third chapter explores the possible 'meanings' of "The West Wind", the theme of the storm and the lone tree motif. It considers their use by his fellow artists and by Canadian poets in the latter years of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth century. Chapter Four reviews the various critical commentaries upon "The West Wind", which show that although Thomson restricted his painting activity to a very small and very specific area of Canada, "The West Wind" transcends its regional influences and remains a compelling image of Canada in the broadest sense.

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