19 February 2003
Joseph Farquharson, R.A. (1846-1935)
A Winter Evening
signed 'J. Farquharson' (lower left) and signed and inscribed 'No. 2/'A Winter Evening'/Joseph Farquharson/Finzean/Aboyne' (on an old label on the reverse)
oil on canvas
20 3/8 x 27¾ in. (51.8 x 70.5 cm.)
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, Sussex, 23 April 1985, lot 2965, when acquired by the present owner.
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Royal Academy Illustrated, 1928, illus. p. 62.
C. Wood, Victorian Painting, London, 1999, pp. 296-7, pl. 384.
London, Royal Academy, 1908, no. 199.
London, Royal Academy, 1928, no. 394.
Farquharson was born in Edinburgh, the son of a doctor and amateur artist. He studied first under Peter Graham, who was a friend of his father's, then at the Board of Manufacture Schools and finally in the life class of the Royal Scottish Academy, where he exhibited from the age of 15. He exhibited at the RA for the first time in 1873 and seven years later spent the first of several winters in the Paris studio of the French academic artist Carolus-Duran, a great advocate of copying from Velqsauez. His first notable success was probably his most extreme expression of winter bleakness, The joyless winter day which was bought by the Chantrey Fund in 1883. Snowscapes made an ideal vehicle for a whole-heartedly academic exercise in the discourse of tonal variation in an almost monochrome painting. Landseer's treatment of similar themes must have been known to Farquharson, but the younger artist did not seem to have intended the religious symbolism that is is deliberately applied by Landseer to such as paintings as The Lost Sheep which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1850 with an accompanying text from St Luke's Gospel, chapter XV, verse 4. Many of these were painted at his family estate at Finzean on Deeside. Despite a brief flirtation with social realism in the 1880's and several works inspired by a visit to Egypt in 1885, his work is dominated by scenes of snowbound sheep and northern winters which were immensely popular with the Victorian and Edwardian public.
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