Bordered by green pastures, a sand-coloured road stretches toward a black hill rising on the horizon. Three cows trudge along under a sky darkened by a looming storm.

Homer Watson

(Doon, Ontario, 1855 – Doon, Ontario, 1936)


Before the Storm


Oil on canvas

61 x 92 cm

Memorial bequest of Mr. and Mrs. G. Hudson Strickland, 1982

Art Gallery of Windsor, 1982.029

The simplified composition and wealth of detail make Before the Storm one of Homer Watson’s most original works. The lowering sky and the luminous road that opens the landscape create bold contrasts of lighting and convey the atmospheric tension that precedes the storm. For his attention to cloud masses in paintings like this one, Watson was dubbed the “Canadian Constable,” in reference to the British painter John Constable (1776-1837), known for Romantic landscapes with vast, cloud-strewn skies.

Homer Watson was a self-taught landscapist who painted countryside scenes at once idyllic and tragic, thus showing the good and the bad sides of rural life. Although his early work was associated with the naturalistic Barbizon School and the Romantic landscapes of John Constable, Watson claimed he had never seen any of those paintings before taking his first trip to Europe, a few months after completing Before the Storm. Actively engaged in the Toronto art community, he was a founding member of the Canadian Art Club.


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