Homer Ransford Watson, painter (b at Doon, Canada W 14 Jan 1855; d there 30 May 1936). Virtually self-taught, Watson spent 1874-76 in Toronto working with John A. Fraser and Henri Perré and in New York absorbing the influence of George Inness and the Hudson River School. Later in Europe he met Sir George Clausen and Whistler, and admired Millet, the Barbizon painters and Constable. Internationally famous at the peak of his career, Watson developed a landscape style marked by honesty of purpose and a focus on the moods of nature. Many of his canvases depict the countryside around Kitchener, the trees, fields of grain, grazing cattle - the "Land of Thrift" much prized in pioneer society. He began exhibiting in 1878 but the purchase of his The Pioneer Mill
for Queen Victoria at the first Royal Canadian Academy of 1880 brought early acclaim. Many significant canvases were completed by the end of the century: Cornfield
(1883), The Flood Gate
(1900) and After the Rain
(1883). His patrons included Lord Strathcona, James Ross, Oscar Wilde and many affluent Canadians. He and Edmund MORRIS
founded the Canadian Art Club in 1907 hoping to replace imported European with Canadian canvases. Watson was president of the Royal Canadian Academy, 1918-21.
Flood Gate, The
Oil on canvas, mounted on plywood, c.1900-01, by Homer Watson (courtesy National Gallery of Canada/Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada, Ottawa).
J. RUSSELL HARPER