Self-taught landscape painter, Alice Mary Blair Pollard Thomas was born on October 1, 1857, in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada, growing up in Ontario. Her earliest works, from the 1890s, were landscapes around Toronto, Canada. She painted in other parts of Canada, during her years there, as well as in Europe, England, Scotland and India.
She lived in Nebraska, 1893-1897, but there are no extant pictures. She painted the mountains of western Washington before moving to Los Angeles. She would emphasize southern California landscapes; the High Sierra; Monterey Peninsula scenes; and Laguna Beach scenes. For twenty years, she worked essentially in watercolors, afterward in oil. Thomas helped found the British Columbia Society of Artists, and Woman’s Art Association, Toronto.
Her early education came from a governess and Bishop Strachan’s School, in Wykeham Hall, Ontario. In 1887, she married Adolphus Richard Thomas, an English-born Canadian gentleman, spending much of her time as wife and mother. After living for an extended period in Toronto and then Vancouver, she moved to Los Angeles in 1917 to be with her daughter and granddaughter, living there for the rest of her life. She died April 19, 1945, in Los Angeles.
One of Alice Thomas’s paintings of the Rocky Mountains was exhibited in 1928 in the Berlin Museum, Germany. She also exhibited at the Toronto Industrial Exhibition, Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, Ontario Society of Artists, and Women’s Art Association, all in Toronto; Montreal Art Association; British Columbia Society of Artists; Dore Gallery and Grosvenor Gallery, London; Pasadena Art Institute, California; Grace Nicholson Galleries, Pasadena; and Kanst Gallery, West Coast Arts, Inc., MacDowell Club, Gardena High School, California Art Club, and Southwest Museum, all in Los Angeles.
Reference works discussing the life and work of Alice Thomas include: Who’s Who in American Art; Petteys; Who’s Who in Los Angeles County; Moure; Hughes; Harper; McMann; Los Angeles Times, 3 Oct 1920, 21 Jan 1923, 8 Jan 1928, 22 Apr 1945; F. Ferret, AAA, reel 3864; National Archives, Index to Border Crossings at St Albans, VT, from Canada, 1894-1924, 13 Mar 1917; US Census 1920, Los Angeles County, CA, ED 163, pg 20; death certificate.
Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki Kovinick, “An Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West”
Biography from Crocker Art Museum
Painter. Born at Collingwood, Ontario, Canada on Oct. 1, 1857. Alice Pollard received her primary education from a governess and later studied in Toronto at Bishop Strachans School. After her marriage to Richard Thomas in 1887, she lived in Toronto and Vancouver. While raising a family, she was active as an artist and cofounded the Toronto Woman’s Art Ass’n and the British Columbia Society of Artists. In 1917 she moved to Los Angeles where she became active in the local art scene. Primarily a landscape painter, she also painted portraits. Mrs. Thomas died in Los Angeles on April 19, 1945.
Exh: Pasadena Art Institute, 1928: Calif. Art Club, 1929.
Edan Hughes, “Artists in California, 1786-1940”
California State Library (Sacramento); American Art Annual 1917-24; Who’s Who in LA County, 1927; Women Artists of the American West; Artists of the American West (Doris Dawdy); Southern California Artists (Nancy Moure); Death Record; Los Angeles Times, 4-22-1945 (obit).