Tom Thomson painting turns up at yard sale
YOU usually don’t find Tom Thomson paintings at a yard sale.
But one may have turned up recently, along with a watercolour by Group of Seven member Frederick Horsman Varley.
The lucky buyer walked away with two paintings for $100, then took them to Maynard’s Auctions in Vancouver. Maynard’s is putting the painting up for auction May 16, with an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000.
The man who discovered the paintings doesn’t want to go public, but Kate Bellringer of Maynard’s says he’s a “regular guy” who said he purchased the paintings on “an impulse.”
He brought them into Maynard’s in January in a shopping bag. Bellringer thought the Thomson looked real, but checked it out before putting it up for sale.
“I contacted local experts, and ex- perts across Canada,” she said. “I even took the painting across the country to Toronto. The consensus among experts that have seen the painting is that it is authentic, and that it is a Tom Thomson.”
She declined to identify the experts whom she consulted, but said they thought it was painted in the spring or summer of 1915.
Canada’s foremost Thomson expert, Joan Murray, declined to talk about the painting when contacted Thursday.
One of Vancouver’s top art dealers, Torben Kristiansen of the Art Emporium, said he hadn’t seen the painting in person, but is somewhat skeptical about it.
“This is not like a Thomson that I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen dozens of them over the years,” said Kristiansen.
Kristiansen said fakes crop up every now and again.
The Thomson painting at Maynard’s is a small oil-on-board sketch measuring about eight by 11 inches. It depicts a hilly shoreline along a lake, topped by a swirling mass of clouds coloured blue, pink, purple and white.
“I think it was probably painted from his canoe, because there’s no fore- ground,” said Bellringer. “He’s out on this placid lake, and it looks like it’s just after sunrise to me.”
It didn’t have a frame when it came in to Maynard’s, and Thomson’s name is barely legible in the right-hand corner.
“It’s a partial signature,” said Bellringer. “You can see T-o-m, and then the Thomson is a little harder to make out. We had the painting cleaned, and the conservator said that it appeared someone had cleaned the painting (earlier) who was less experienced, and that could be why part of the signature has been removed.”
Thomson drowned in 1917 after only painting for a few years, so his work is quite rare.
Heffel auction house holds the record sale price for a Thomson painting: $2,749,500 for the 1917 sketch, Early Spring, Canoe Lake.
Thomson painting in question.