Tom Roberts, RCA, OSA (1856-1931)
Thomas Keith Roberts was born with art in his blood. Tom Roberts’ mother, Frieda Humme, was an artist, as was her father, Julius Humme, who was an original member of the Ontario Society of Artists. Tom Roberts’ grandfather on his father’s side was Samuel Roberts, who founded Toronto’s famous Roberts Art Gallery in 1842 (the gallery is still in operation). Tom’s father, Percy, later ran the gallery. From early boyhood, Tom Roberts spent considerable time at the gallery and had early ambitions of becoming an artist.
Tom Roberts’ influences were derived from French Impressionists, the Group of Seven and J.W. Beatty in particular, who had preceded the Group of Seven in the discovery of Northern Ontario for subject matter. J.W. Beatty inspired his students to use a brighter palette – something clearly seen in Tom Roberts’ works.
Most important are Tom Roberts’ oils, in especial those of the Petawawa River and the beautiful surrounding countryside. These show a freedom in Roberts’ brush work, an increasing breadth of style, a newly vigorous color.
By the mid 1980’s, Tom Roberts had held over thirty one-man shows in Toronto alone. He was a long-time member of the Ontario Society of Artists (joined 1944) and a Member of the Royal Canadian Academy (joined 1945). Tom Roberts is one of Canada’s most popular Post Second World War landscape artists.