Teachers Lesson Plans

The Group of Seven

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Tom Thomson, Northern River, 1914-1915 and Frederick H. Varley, Vera, 1930

It may seem strange to compare a landscape to a portrait. But when we consider the fact that these two paintings have the same colour scheme, reveal great technical sensitivity, and are simple and effective in composition, we can easily compare them. Both works have vertical elements, for example: Thomson's tree trunks recall the pattern of the top worn by Varley's subject. Although the colour scheme of the two works is the same, warm colours and cool ones are used in inverse proportions. Thomson used cool tones sparingly, whereas Varley used warm tones only to add detail. The natural compositions are also interesting: Thomson places the viewer in the foreground, as an observer of a wild place, and lets us guess the extent of the landscape. Varley, on the other hand, lets his subject look at us and reveal herself to us. With time, the mystery surrounding Thomson's death will subside, and the intensity and beauty of the works he produced in his final years will become all the more apparent.