In the Northland
oil on canvas
101.7 x 114.5 cm
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Gift of the Friends of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Tom Thomson, a self-taught artist and outdoorsman, promoted the idea of the Canadian forest as an immense, uninhabited and virtually undeveloped expanse. Inspired by a plein air sketch completed in Algonquin Park, this painting excludes all traces of human presence. The foreground is taken up by a downward sloping branch that pierces the vertical grid of birch trees. Thomson worked in Northern Ontario, where forestry and mining had already begun to take their toll on the environment. The artist seemed to share the idea that Canada’s natural resources were inexhaustible.