Thomas Mower Martin

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Thomas Mower Martin RCA, OSA (1838-1934) was a painter, illustrator, writer and educator who was born in London England. He emigrated to Muskoka, Ontario, Canada in 1862, then moved to Toronto (York Mills area) in 1863, which is where he lived for the rest of his life until his death. His mediums were oil and watercolour. His primary subjects were North American landscapes, Indians, frontier life, genre, still life, animals, birds and figures. His styles were realism and representational.

He attended the South Kensington School in London (the Royal College of Art since 1896); however, he is considered a mostly self taught artist. In Canada he was one of the founders and the director (1877–1879) of the Ontario School of Art.

In 1887 he became a member of a group of artists called the Railway Painters and traveled through western Canada to paint landscapes on a commission from the Canadian Pacific Railway. Among the artists that have accompanied him were Frederic Marlett Bell-Smith, Lucius O'Brien, and Marmaduke Matthews. It should be noted, Martin's first trip west on the train to paint was in 1882 before construction was completed in 1885. At that time he only went as far as Lake Superior. After 1887, he returned to Western Canada every year for ten years to paint; he has in fact painted landscapes and other subjects all across Canada from the east to the west coast. He has also done some landscape and wildlife painting in the U.S.A.

He was a founding member of the Ontario Society of Artists in 1872 and the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1880. He was also a member of the Royal British Colonial Society of Artists (1909).

In addition to exhibiting with the organizations above he has also shown his work at the Art Association of Montreal (1880-1929), the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1877), the Boston Art Club (1881), the Brooklyn Art Association (1884-1886), and the National Academy of Design (1885).

His works are in many private, corporate and public collections. The public collections include the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), the National Archives of Canada (Ottawa), the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto), the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), the Vancouver Art Gallery (B.C.), the Vancouver City Museum, the Glenbow Museum (Calgary) and Windsor Castle, England.

He is listed in A Dictionary of Canadian Artists (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald, published by Canadian Paperbacks Ltd. (8 volumes); in The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar, published by Westbridge Publications Ltd. (4 volumes); in Falk's Who Was Who in American Art (3 volumes); and in the 1999 and 2006 versions of E. Benezit, published by Grund.

His work is discussed and illustrated in the books; Painting in Canada: A History, by J. Russell Harper; A Concise History of Canadian Painting, by Dennis Reid; Art Gallery of Ontario – the Canadian Collection, by Helen Pepall Bradfield; From Desolation to Splendour – Changing Perceptions of the British Columbia Landscape, by Maria Tippett and Douglas Cole; The Fine Arts in Canada, by Newton MacTavish M.A.; Canadian Art – Its Origin and Development, by William Colgate; and The Mountains and the Sky, by Lorne E. Render.

Some books by Thomas Mower Martin: Canada (1907), text by Wilfred Campbell, illustrated by T.M. Martin, published by Adam and Charles Black of London (272pgs, colour); Kew Gardens (1908) by A. R. Moncrieff, illustrated by T.M. Martin, published by Adam and Charles Black of London (208 pgs, colour); Peeps at Many Lands:Canada (1909) by J. T. Bealby, illustrated by T.M.Martin and others, published by Adam and Charles Black of London (88pgs).

Martin has also written and published several pamphlets on religion, philosophy and politics.

(Source: With permission from, from their archives, prepared and contributed by M.D.Silverbrooke)