JOSEPH FARQUHARSON, R.A.(British, 1846-1935)
Signed 'J Farquharson' (lower left)
Farquarson has become immensely popular in recent years: this past Spring, his painting The Shortening Winter's Day is near a Close fetched $240,770 at auction at Bonhams Edinburgh.
Oil on board
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1846, Joseph Farquharson combined a long and prolific career as a painter with his inherited role as a Scottish laird in Aberdeenshire. (Here is a mini documentary on Joseph Farquharson.åÊ
Joseph was educated in Edinburgh and permitted by his father to paint only on Saturdays using his father's paint box. When Joseph reached the age of 12, Francis Farquharson bought his son his first paints he could call his own and only a year later he exhibited his first painting at the Royal Scottish Academy. His first major portrait was of ' Miss Alice Farquhar ' exhibited 1884. His first exhibit at the Royal Academy, ' Day's Dying Glow ', was in 1873. Much like other leading Aberdeen artists John Philip and William Dyce, Edinburgh and Glasgow were bypassed in favor of London in order to win a wider audience and patrons.
Joseph inherited the title of Laird in 1918 after the death of his elder brother Robert, an MP. Joseph Farquharson trained at the Trustees' Academy in Edinburgh during the 1860s. "The Painting Laird" studied first under Peter Graham R.A. and then at the Life School at the Royal Scottish Academy. The popular Scottish Landscape painter Peter Graham remained a close friend and his influence on Farquharson is unmistakable. Farquharson exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1873 and was elected an Associate in 1900. Farquharson is most famous for his works portraying sheep and his finest works often include a human figure. Men and women of Scotland going about their every day labors are frequently depicted in dramatic landscapes. Nearly all the early works were inspired by his rural surroundings and he went on to make snow scenes his trademark. Other subjects he often painted were burns and fly fishing.
The unusual titles of many of Farquharson's paintings stand out and are sometimes long. Many of them were taken from poems by Burns, Milton, Shakespeare and Gray. Farquharson was very patriotic and well versed in Scottish literature.
He was elected Associate of the Royal Academy in 1900, Royal Academician in 1915 and Senior Royal Academician in 1922. In addition to exhibiting over 200 works at the Royal Academy he showed 73 at the Royal Society of Arts and 181 at the Fine Art Society. He also exhibited at the Royal College of Art and the Tate Gallery. The renowned artist-critic, Sickert made Farquharson the subject of an essay comparing him favorably with Courbet. He extolled Farquharson's tension and realism and criticized the pretension of his polar opposites, the Bloomsbury Group, whose writ he said "fortunately does not run in the North of Scotland". The remarkable realism of Farquharson's work can be attributed to his desire to work in "plein air". This had to be carried out in a unique way which was adapted to the harsh Scottish climate. Farquharson had constructed a painting hut on wheels, complete with a stove and large glass window for observing the landscape. Likewise to achieve as realistic a result as possible when painting the sheep which frequently appear in his snowscapes, he used a flock of "imitation" sheep which could be placed as required in the landscape of his choice. Farquharson painted so many scenes of cattle and sheep in snow he was nicknamed 'Frozen Mutton Farquharson'.