Friday, July 08, 2016

Arty Farty Friday ~ Canadian Painter Tom Thomson & His Mysterious Death.

This time, looking to discover whether astrology can help explain the mysterious and tragic death of a painter.

Tom Thomson, one of Canada’s most influential painters of the 20th-century, was last seen alive around mid-day, July 8, 1917, when setting out alone across Canoe Lake to begin a fishing trip. He was familiar with the area, having visited there a number of times – while working in the Park as a fire ranger, a guide for fishing parties, and of course, pursuing his painting. Within hours of his departure, his empty canoe was spotted floating not far from the dock he had left from, and more than a week later, his body surfaced in the lake. His untimely death helped transform the aspiring artist into a cultural giant. His paintings are now seen in galleries across Canada, and exhibitions of his work always attract large audiences. In the last few years, paintings by Thomson have fetched over a million dollars at auction.

How Thomson died, who found his body, its condition, and even its final resting place all remain mysteries. Some propose the cause of Thomson’s death was an accident resulting from plain bad luck, while others suggest suicide, and still others point to foul play resulting from a conflict over debt, a love interest, or opinions about the war effort. To add even more mystery to the affair there are serious questions regarding whether Thomson’s body was moved from its first resting place............
(More HERE)

From a piece on Thomson by Lee Parsons HERE
Tom Thomson grew up in a family of 10 children in the small town of Leith, Ontario, near the shores of Georgian Bay. Second-generation Scottish, his parents placed a good deal of importance on their children’s cultural education, encouraging them in the areas of literature, art and particularly music.........

Thomson suffered from a weak constitution as a child and at a certain point was taken out of school because of a chronic lung ailment. Consequently, he spent a good deal of time away from the social interaction of school and passed many of his formative years relatively isolated, often exploring the neighboring forests and fields where he developed a close affinity with nature. Though he could be highly focused when he set himself a task, he typically wouldn’t pursue any interest for very long and this aimlessness characterized his early adult years. He worked in various occupations—as a farmer and as a machinist, and at one point he attended business school in Chatham, Ontario, before he found a pursuit that brought him some satisfaction.

Thomson’s brothers had ventured out to Seattle when he was 20 to start a business school, and he followed them there and began working as a photoengraver for an advertising company. With some success under his belt, he returned to Ontario to continue as a photoengraver and during this time set about developing his skills as a graphic designer. It was at this point that he took to drawing, albeit in somewhat crude strokes, taking some classes in both drawing and painting for a time.

Little is known about his activities until 1911—about five years later. While in Seattle, there is some record of a troubled romantic episode that may have prompted his return to Toronto; his relations with women seem to have been problematic on the whole. It was during this time, however, that he began working for a prominent commercial art firm then known as Grip Limited where he met some of the men who were to influence his development as a landscape painter.

Noon chart for birth of Tom Thomson - 5 August 1877 in Claremont, Ontario, Canada.

Noon chart for 8July, 1917, possible date of death of Tom Thomson on Canoe Lake, Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada.

Any ideas? I see that transiting Uranus, planet of the unexpected, was opposing natal Uranus at the time of Thomson's death.

Natally, Jupiter in Sagittarius trined Uranus in Leo, while Pluto was in square aspect to Uranus.

On date of death the transiting conjunction of Saturn/Neptune/Venus at 1/3/5 Leo was in the general area of Thomson's natal Sun at 13 degrees, but certainly not close enough to be considered conjunct at that time - whether this is relevant I'm unsure.

The Uranus opposition seems most of interest.


mike said...

The use of a solar chart is typically frowned upon by astrologers, but several highly recommend the solar nativity as another form of interpretation. Thomson's solar chart places the Mars-Saturn conjunction in his 8th house, maybe providing a fascination and-or fear with death and sex (I'm reminded of "The Loved One", both the book by Evelyn Waugh and the movie based on the book...both are wonderfully entertaining). His natal Jupiter is ruler of his solar 8th house and is square to Mar-Saturn (possible Moon T-square). As you indicate, transiting Uranus was opposing natal Uranus at his death, which is the stereotypical midlife crisis, topsy-turvy instability, with this occurring in his 7th solar house of relationships. Add transiting Mars in his 11th square the natal Mars-Saturn opposition, applying pressure, plus transiting Mars coming into opposition with his 5th house of creativity, natal Jupiter, perhaps providing artistic-blockage. This forming T-square would have been very frustrating emotionally and physically.

Can't say whether it was suicide, murder, or accident, as anything with Mars, Saturn, and Uranus can be indicative of sudden detriments. With an equal-house solar chart, he had Sun, Venus, Saturn, and Neptune in his 12th house, which would imply a time of hidden enemies and personal isolation, maybe depression. Considering all this, I find it more likely this wasn't an accident. Something was threatening him, whether his own emotions or an outside force, likely something of a sexual nature.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Thank you for these points, using a solar chart - which, I understand, puts Sun on ascendant.

The picture you've painted is plausible.

I agree that a simple accident is not easy to reconcile, for someone as experienced as he apparently was when out in "the wilds", at least if the weather remained reasonably calm. I didn't read anything to the contrary. With Uranus closely involved I'd surmise that whatever happened wasn't planned (suicide would most likely have been planned, I suppose - unless... some severe bout of depression suddenly closed down on him).

Anonymous said...

There's a new book -
- out here by an academic who's spent the last ten years researching the various theories. I heard an interview with him last week in which he refused to spoil the story by telling us his conclusions, so, since I haven't read the book, I was searching about and found this, which - if true – slightly affects your second chart timing:

'On 8 July 1917 Tom set out onto Canoe Lake with the intention of portaging to an adjacent lake to spend some time fishing. Tom packed light provisions for this excursion, bringing with him only some fishing equipment and a bundle of food prepared by Shannon Fraser of Mowat Lodge. As later recounted by Fraser, Tom left the lodge at 12:50pm and set off toward the south end of the lake. Later that afternoon, local cottager Martin Blecher Jr reported that he and his sister had spotted an overturned canoe(which was never confirmed to have belonged to Tom) floating on the lake as they had enjoyed a quiet boat ride together.'

The body was found around 10 AM Monday, July 16.

I and others I know who have paddled the waters of Algonquin and even more remote locations on our inland lakes believe it most likely Tom Thomson accidentally drowned.

Today I see wiki has updated the Tom Thomson entry to include the conclusion drawn in the latest book, referred to at top.

A wonderful painter whose works are Canadian icons: not a hundred yards from me the trees and water imitate his Art.

Twilight said...

Sabina ~ Thanks for pointing out the new book.

I did ponder over timing the second chart, but as nobody can be sure of the time he actually died, decided to just post a noon chart, which would at least indicate position of some/most planets in relation to his natal noon chart. According to your excerpt, his death would be at least an hour later, but maybe even several hours later. If the overturned canoe, seen later that afternoon, wasn't in fact Thomson's...which seems unlikely... but if it wasn't, it could have been when darkness fell that an accident occurred to Thomson - he could have fallen asleep, and the canoe could have hit a tree stump or some other obstruction tipping it over. (More speculation.)

I remember reading that there was a film made about the mystery some years ago - I'll look for the link:

I do appreciate his paintings, from what I've seen of them on the net.

mike (again) said...

Kristopher Kinsinger's compendium essay is a good read...thanks, Sabina! I wouldn't say that Kinsinger summarizes Thomson's death a suicide, as he leaves it open, yet pushes the suicide conclusion. Most of the material referenced is on the site. After reading Kinsinger's compendium, it seems murder would have been very likely, as Thomson had several hostile confrontations at that time. Hard to explain the gash across his head and the fishing line around his ankle, plus the air in his lungs, should he have drowned.

mike (again) said...

Sorry, Sabina, Kinsinger wasn't the author with the conclusion that you referenced as being on Thomson's Wiki entry. Gregory Klages was that author. I find it difficult to think Klages would have much more to work with than any other researcher, though that Wiki entry implies he did dig deeper. Wiki being a multi-contributor source may have allowed Klages to have written that last paragraph under the sub-heading "Death".

I liked the Tom Thomson action figure:
"The Floating Corpse of the Artist"...LOL!

JD said...

in those photos he bears an uncanny resemblance to Picasso.
his paintings are not Picasso like but nevertheless he was a very good painter

Twilight said...

JD ~ I see what you mean - when Picasso was young - yes!

Twilight said...

JD has e-mailed a link to a very good blog post about Tom Thomson by the late Iain Carstairs. It's a good read and includes some excellent images of Thomsons' artwork.