Tomhu Huron Roberts 1853 -1938 Early Canadian Artist

Tomhu Huron Roberts Early Canadian artist



Tomhu Huron Roberts is one of Canada’s Early Canadian artists. He was born in Collingwood and schooled in art in Toronto at Odell & Trout and Bridgman & Forster.
He then moved with his family to Vancouver and they lived for 25 years at 2527 Quebec Street. Burnaby Art Gallery states in Artists Overland “He seems to of been the first artists to make
a living as an artist.”He had incredible optimism to dare advertise as an artist
“3. Tomhu fought the Great Fire and for a short time his eyes were damaged. In “Desolation to Splendor
it states:” Roberts, one of the earliest of the mainland’s settlers, was searching for accomodation of his traditional style to aspects of the environment that were new to his experience.”4
In 1907 Tomhu’s father writes:”We spent more years in Vancouver than anywhere on earth“. Painting in both Toronto and Vancouver, he showed each in their various stages of development. In his
paintings he exhibits a real skill in showing natures many moods. In describing Tomhu’s painting in book Coast,the Sea and Canadian Art, the author says, ” The air feels dense and
still-quiet like Vancouver at the end of a hot July day. And the pumpkin colored cloud are a complete surprise. Robert’s audacity is still a little thrilling.“5 As well as landscapes
like “Country Scene” or “Coastal Cottage” or sketch “Landscape inspired by Constable”. Tomhu captures the informality of local activities, which seems as natural as the land
around him. One such sketch is “Solitaire”. Many paintings show people in every day activities such as “Camp Story”, and “Native Woman Walking on on the Ties.”

Tomhu was excellent at portraiture. His love of faces and figures is shown in his sketch books – they are full of sketches of small faces.”They are little gems, even more
exciting are the numerous portrait studies and figure sketches. He had a penetrating eye that not only seemed to catch the personality and character but stance
.”6
The fine detail of his portraits can be seen in the sketch “Morning after the Rain” and “Man and Boy”. Tomhu’s sketchbooks and paintings are not only visual but written diaries
of his artistic development. “He was influenced by the artist John Constable“7 He filled his sketchbooks with theories of his techniques which used in teaching. Some topics
in his scribblers include:“Mixing and Using Oil Paints“,”The Easiest Way of PaintingPortraits and Landscapes”,“Proportion and Scale in Drawing“,and
“Color Techniques to Make a Picture Look Real“. In his diaries he has carefully written out the philosophy and thoughts of F.W. Moody and Ruskin. Records show that Tomhu Huron
Roberts later resided at Caulfieds until his death in 1938. Without Tomhu’s patient study of color, light, shade, proportion and scale early in his life, his later paintings could
not have been achieved so successfully. His painting reflects the natural beauty of Canada. We are certainly luck to have the painting and sketches of Tomhu showing Canada
showing its pioneer days.”Roberts was a good portrait painter and, since he was popular in this field in the day, it is quite likely that his paintings of people will have historical
as well as artistic value.
“8

1. Artists Overland 2. Fine Arts in Vancouver 3. The New Dominion. 4. Desolation to Splendor 5.Coast Sea & Canadian Art 6. Harold Patton 7&8. News articles

Quotes about Tomhu Huron Roberts

1.”Tomtu Roberts seems to have been the first artist to live in Vancouver and make a living as an artist. He must of see the fire first hand, for the Roberts family came to the city in 1885. One of his first sketches (obviously named after the event ) would of been “Vancouver before the Fire.” His work marks the end of the topographical era, using colours in an emotion- provoking way which would have been novel in British Columbia at the time” Artists Overland” – Burnaby Art Gallery

2.Harper claims that H Tomtu Roberts (1858-1938) arrived in Vancouver about 1886 and “dared to advertise himself as an artist”. It is evidence to suggest that at least some individuals in the new city were interested in the arts.” “Fine Arts in Vancouver” A Historical Survey Thesis
1886-1930 Thom William W 709-711T45F

3.”He had incredible optimism to dare advertise as an artist, one wonders where he could expect to find patrons. Small oil landscaped in the Vancouver City Museum picture tall Douglas firs still growing on Granville St. He loved landscapes with atmospheric effects: on grey days, for example, he could obtain greater illusions of depth by sharp forground against vague distance.” The New Dominion” (book) 1867-1910

4.Roberts, one of the earliest of the mainland’s settlers, was searching for an accomodation of his traditional style to aspects of the landscape that were new to the experience.” – The late nineteenth cnetury saw the opening of the transcontinental railway and a great influx of settlers and exuberant artists to the West Coast from Europe and eastern Canada.
-(Also in this book is misinformation about Tomtu being from Wales as it was revealed later in the father’s diaries that he was born in Colligwood, Ontario but they did go to Wales when he was a infant but ending up coming back to Canada to live in Toronto and then Vancouver” “From Desolation to Splendor” (book) Maria Tippett & Douglas Cole

5. “The air feels dense and still-quiet like Vancouver at the end of a hot July day. And the pumpkin colored cloud
are a complete surprise.Robert’s audacity is still a little thrilling.” Coast, Sea and Canadian ArtThe Gallery, Stratford, Ontario

6. “They are little gems, Even more exciting were the numerous portrait studies and figure sketches. This artist had a most penetrating eye and seemed to be able to catch not only the character and personality of his sitter or subject but also his stance whether it be charcoal or pencil or ink and pencil, he was a most accomplished draftsman. The various drawing around early days in Toronto were most impressive but I was far more fascinated with the works from the Prairies and West Coast. Possibly the most fascinating aspect are his written notes on painting and color and his various observations in art. He must of been a most interesting teacher and it would be intriguing to explore who his pupils were and what influence he may of had on the West Coast.” H.Patton, Fine Arts Consultant, Toronto

7 .”He was influenced by the artist John Constable. The pages of his notebooks are filled with on-line sketches, especially of changing skies, and notations about the angle of the sun and exact colorations. These give a rare insight in the man and his preoccupation with his work, and are much more powerful that the finished oil paintings. “The Marketing of a Gentleman artist” – Tomtu H. Roberts -(news article) Brenda

8″ Roberts was a good portrait painter and, since he was popular in this field in the day, it is quite likely that his paintings of people will have historical as well as artistic value. “Canadian artist’s life mysterious- “CanadiAntiquer” (newspaper) April 1983

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