Many of Tom Thomson’s works adorn the walls of Canada’s largest art galleries. And until recently, one of his paintings was collecting dust in the basement of an Edmonton residence.
Glenna Gardiner, a 71-year-old retired nurse, says she always mocked her father when he said the painting, which has been in his family for 80 years, was painted by Tom Thomson.
The origin of the work had long been the subject of jokes between Glenna Gardiner and one of her friends to whom she had jokingly decided to offer the painting as a birthday present.
The latter then had the painting evaluated by the Heffel Fine Art auction house, where experts estimated its value between $125,000 and $175,000.
Despite her immense value, Glenna Gardiner is still not impressed by the painting. “Have you seen it? It does not look like much, she says. I have never found it particularly interesting.”
To have such a famous painting in my house is beyond comprehension.
The painting, which shows the landscape of Algonquin Park in Ontario, was painted on site, according to Heffel vice president Robert Heffel. He added that the 18 cm x 25 cm canvas was then adapted to paint a larger painting on display at the National Gallery of Canada.
Although he was not an official member, Tom Thomson is considered an important source of inspiration for the Group of Seven, a group of Canadian landscape painters of the early 20th century. The formation of the group was formalized in 1920, during its first exhibition. Thomson, who was part of the same group of friends, died in 1917 at the age of 39.
It’s a big day every time we have a Thomson in our auction, says Robert Heffel. His paintings are very rare because he died young.”
The Canadian Conservation Institute has determined that one of the white pigments on the board is found only in Thomson and Group of Seven paintings. Robert Heffel says that at a glance it is enough to recognize the work of Tom Thomson.
The painting will now be on display in Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, where it will be auctioned on May 30.
Glenna Gardiner says she will use the money to help her son. She also wants to take her friend on a cruise to thank her for having evaluated the canvas.