Tom Stone

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Born: 14 November 1897, Fownhope, Herefordshire, England
Died: 1978, Cataract, Ontario, Canada

Tom Stone established a studio in Caledon, Ontario, where he produced oil paintings of landscapes throughout the seasons. He became well-known for his winter snow scenes and his depictions of light on water. Stone also portrayed villages, hunting camps, and portraits at the beginning of his career. He also produced etchings, dry-point, and lithographs.

Thomas Albert Stone was born in Fownhope, England in 1897. He arrived in Canada in 1914 in his late teens, possibly with his family, and went to Edmonton, Alberta. He moved on to Vancouver in the same year and worked as an architect. Shortly after, Stone enlisted in the military and spent four years overseas during WW I. In 1918, he settled in Vancouver and took evening art classes with artist Charles Scott.

By 1921 he was living in Toronto and studying at the Ontario College of Art (OCA), taking courses from G.A. Reid, A. Lismer, J. W. Beatty, J.E.H. MacDonald, H.H. Stanfield, Emanuel Hahn, and F.H. Varley, and graduated in 1925. Stone continued post-graduate studies for another two years at OCA. He then departed for Europe, working and studying in Paris at several Academies including Julian, La Grande Chaumière, Académie Moderne, and with Andre Lhote, who was a figurative cubist painter. Stone created an extensive number of landscapes in oil and watercolour in the Swiss Alps and in rural France. Rare evidence of his abilities and interest in modernist figurative composition is seen in his oil painting Landscape Near Port Hope (Resting), c.1927. In a flattened space, Stone depicts seven contemporary symbolic figures in a utopian landscape, rendered in fresh spring-like hues that create a lively patch-work of colour. The female figures wear bobbed hair; one plays a mandolin, another holds a book, one is curled-up asleep, and another holds a baby, and behind this group a mysterious couple embrace.

In 1928, Stone and fellow Toronto artist Charles Goldhamer published an edition of two hundred portfolios, Lithographs of Ontario. Each portfolio comprised fifteen monochrome lithographs in brown or grey ink, and a supportive introduction by Arthur Lismer. Stone's lithographs show a range of rural subjects, including a dock and boats in Tobermory, a rhythmic composition of a predominant tree and horses in a field in Ontario Pastorale, a winter landscape with sleigh in Winter Road, and sunlight playing across rolling hills and modest dwellings in Parry Sound. Stone was a member of the Ontario Society of Artists (OSA) when he published this portfolio.

On his return from Europe in 1929, Stone was honoured with a solo exhibition of fifty-four paintings depicting pastoral and architectural scenes from France and Switzerland at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario). The stock market crashed two days before the exhibition opened, slowing sales considerably. Stone taught art at night school during the early years of the Depression.

In 1934, Stone exhibited his painting The Snowbound Trail, at the Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto, and it was reproduced in The Studio, a British art magazine, in January 1935. A reviewer in Saturday Night (October 29, 1938), described Stone's winter landscapes for which he was well-known, "… in general [they] are described in terms of pattern and light, and in some occur those representations of trees with great hanging blobs of fresh snow which he has made peculiarly his own." In 1936, Stone exhibited three paintings, Birch Trees, Ottawa River, Transcontinental Highway, and Mattawa, at the OSA Annual Exhibition of Little Pictures at the Art Gallery of Toronto.

Reviewer Augustus Bridle noted in the Toronto Star (December 1, 1942) that Stone had begun to prepare his own paints, accounting in part for a shift in his painting style, which he described, "Skies, trees, clouds, roads, hills, streams are all just living webs of paint put on, not to display technique, but to reveal nature". He also noted that Stone had started to "make a naturalist's study of animals in Algonquin Park … including deer, moose and red fox."

For much of his life Stone lived in Caledon, 50 kilometres north of Toronto. In 1951, Stone and his wife Marion moved to Cataract, Ontario, not far from his previous home. He died there in 1978.

Selected Public Collections
Brampton, ON, Art Gallery of Peel
Guelph, ON, MacDonald Stewart Art Centre
Owen Sound, ON, Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery
Toronto, ON, Art Gallery of Ontario

Selected Solo Exhibitions
1929, Sketches in France and Switzerland by Tom Stone, Art Gallery of Toronto, Toronto, ON
1934, Eaton's Gallery, Montreal, QC
1935, 1938, Malloney Galleries, Toronto, ON
1942, 1949, Annual Exhibition and Sale of Paintings by Tom Stone, Fine Art Galleries, Eaton's, Toronto, ON
1972, Peel County Museum and Art Gallery, Brampton, ON
Mid-1970s, Tom Stone: Oils and Watercolours of the 1920s and 1930s, Nancy Poole's Studio, Toronto, ON

Selected Group Exhibitions
1923-1943, Royal Canadian Academy of Arts
1927-1943, Ontario Society of Artists, Toronto, ON
1934, Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto, ON
1936, OSA Annual Exhibition of Little Pictures, Art Gallery of Toronto, ON
2004, Painted in Peel: The Peel Landscape by the Group of Seven and Their Contemporaries, Art Gallery of Peel, Brampton, ON

Selected Memberships
1928, Member, Ontario Society of Artists; mid 1930s, Executive council

Judith Parker
Compiled October 2008

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 (online only), by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker
National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada