Homer Watson

I was in a state of ecstasy almost all of the time over nature effects, and I have never lost this love of nature.” (1930)

Homer Watson devoted himself to painting the countryside of Doon (now Kitchener, Ontario). Combining romantic and realistic elements, his landscapes reflect Canada’s physical nature and early pioneer life. The house where he lived and worked for most of his adult life is called the Homer Watson House & Gallery.

A self-taught artist, Watson was encouraged to paint at an early age by both his teacher and his aunt. He moved to Toronto in 1874, where he spent time in the Toronto Normal School and the Notman-Fraser photography studio. Travel continued to influence his work. He began to follow the Hudson River school after a trip to New York. In France, he learned from the plein air Barbizon painters. In 1907, Watson became a founding member and president of the Canadian Art Club. He served as president of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts from 1918 to 1922.

In 1880, the Marquis of Lorne, then-Governor General of Canada, purchased The Pioneer Mill, 1878, for Queen Victoria. This event launched Watson’s career. However, he considered [The Flood Gate, 1900], to be his masterpiece. This painting later received a bronze medal at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. In 1914, Watson was commissioned to paint the first Canadian Expeditionary Force at Valcartier, Quebec. He was awarded the bronze medal at London’s Colonial and Indian Exhibition, 1886. The following year, he won four prizes at Toronto’s Industrial Exhibition. Days after his death, the University of Western Ontario awarded Watson an honorary doctorate.
Photography: Edmond Dyonnet Collection, National Gallery of Canada Archives