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 Thomas Wilberforce Mitchell  (1879 - 1958)

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Lived/Active: Ontario / Canada      Known for: painting, commercial art, graphics, illustration

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
ROAD BUILDING IN HALIBURTON
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Thomas Wilberforce Mitchell ARCA, OSA, SGA, CSPWC, ALCT (1879 – 1958)

A prominent early 20th century Canadian painter, draftsman, commercial artist, graphic artist and illustrator, Thomas Wilberforce Mitchell was born in Clarksburg, Ontario (on Lake Huron, about 110 miles northwest of Toronto), lived much of his life in Toronto, Ontario and died in Barrie, Ontario (about 60 miles north of Toronto), where he had been living since the late 1930s or early 1940s. He was a member of the Ontario Society of Artists*, an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts*, and there is a painting of his in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada. (1)

His mediums included oils, watercolors, pen & ink and magazine, book, and periodical illustrations. His painting subjects included landscapes, mountains, rivers, lakes, snowscapes, city streets, farm life, frontier activities (e.g. horseback riding, horse-drawn sleighs, canoeing, road construction, etc.) and genre*. Most of the painting locations were in Ontario; however, there are scenes from his travels, as there are paintings with titles or inscriptions that state they are of places in Liverpool, Paris, Spain and Pennsylvania. His styles included Realism* and Impressionism*. The AskART images are excellent illustrations of his oeuvre.

His formal art education includes the Central Ontario School of Art and Design*, Toronto (1900 – 1904) where he studied under William Cruikshank, G.A. Reid, and F.S. Challener; and the  Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts*, Philadelphia (1912 – 1913) where he studied under J. Alden Weir, Emil Carlsen, Philip L. Hale, and Daniel Garber. (2) (3)

As a commercial artist Mitchell worked for J.E. Laughlin, Toronto (c. 1899 – 1905); J.J. Gibbons, Toronto (art director, c.1905 – 1912); and at Brigden's, Toronto (art director, 1916 – 1932). As an employee of the above firms and, later, as a freelance illustrator, he did illustrations for the Robert Simpson Company catalogue, the Toronto Star Weekly, Maclean's Magazine, and Thomas B. Costain's book The Black Rose (1945). (4)

In 1904 Mitchell was a founding member of the Society of Graphic Art (later Canadian Society of Graphic Art*), Toronto and served as its President from 1911 to 1912. He was also a member of the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto (1908), the Ontario Society of Artists* (1913), the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour* (1926 – 1930), an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* (1926), and an Honorary President of the Barrie Art Club (1949).

He exhibited with the Ontario Society of Artists frequently (at least 22 times) between 1910 and 1946, with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts between 1913 and 1935, with the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour* between 1926 and 1930, and with the Art Association of Montreal (now Montreal Museum of Fine Arts) in 1927.

According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* Mitchell’s paintings are in the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (B.C.), the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa).
 

Footnotes:
(1) Unfortunately, our sources do not agree on when Mitchell moved to Barrie, Ontario; for example, The National Gallery of Canada: Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture, Volume III (see AskART book references) notes that Mitchell moved to Barrie in 1938, The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (see AskART book references) says he moved there in 1942, and A Dictionary of Canadian Artists: Volume 4, Little – Myles (see AskART book references) notes that “in 1944 and he sold his Toronto home to make his permanent residence in Barrie.” It goes on to say that he had been living in Barrie before 1944 assisting “his sister-in-law... in running the Queen's Hotel.” – MDS

(2) Please note: The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (see AskART book references), alone, says Mitchell studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1906 to 1907; however this discrepancy could be a mistake because when we reviewed the AskART biographies of his PAFA teachers we noted that Daniel Garber was in Europe from 1905 to 1907 and didn’t begin teaching at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts until 1909. Additional supporting source: Daniel Garber biography in Who Was Who in American Art, 1564 – 1975 (see AskART book references). – MDS

(3) Please note: All artists mentioned in this biography and its footnotes have their own pages in AskART.

(4) Mitchell also worked briefly in the Montreal office of  J.J. Gibbons in 1905, and he visited Europe in the latter part of 1906. Source: A Dictionary of Canadian Artists: Volume 4, Little – Myles (see AskART book references).
 
Sources:
Biographical Index of Artists in Canada (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann (see AskART book references)

The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references)

Who Was Who in American Art, 1564 – 1975 (1999), by Peter Hastings Falk (see AskART book references)

The Group of Seven: Art for a Nation (1995), by Charles C. Hill (see AskART book references)

Art and Architecture in Canada (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson (see AskART book references)

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: Spring Exhibitions 1880 – 1970 (1988), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references)

Royal Canadian Academy of Arts: Exhibitions and Members, 1880 – 1979 (1981), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references)

Passionate Spirits: A History of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, 1880 – 1980 (1980), by Rebecca Sisler (see AskART book references)

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists: Volume 4, Little – Myles (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references)

The National Gallery of Canada: Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture, Volume III (1960), by R.H. Hubbard (see AskART book references)

Canadian Art - Its Origin and Development (1943), by William Colgate (see AskART book references)

Canadian Landscape Painting (1932), by A.H. Robson (see AskART book references)

The National Gallery of Canada Catalogue (1931), by National Gallery of Canada (see AskART book references)

The Fine Arts in Canada (1925), by Newton MacTavish (see AskART book references)

Canadian Heritage Information Network* (biographical information and museums)

National Gallery of Canada (library and exhibitions records)

Art Gallery of Ontario (exhibition and book summaries online)

Society of Painters in Water Colour (online members list)

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com. Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx.

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.
 
 
 

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.
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