Sir Jeremiah Colman Bt., Gatton Park, Reigate;
Christie’s, 18 September 1942, lot 71 to ‘De Caserz’;
with E. Stacy Marks, Eastbourne;
Christie’s, 29 March 1996, lot 146;
Richard Green Gallery;
In his review of Farquharson's work, Archdeacon Sinclair noted that 'Mr Farquharson has never forgotten that special genre which has brought him so much pleasure and distinction' (ibid Sinclair, p. 28) referring to the artist's preoccupation with scenes of snowy highland landscapes lit by evening or dawn light. It was this subject in the artist's work and the stories of him painting at his easle set up in a mobile studio amid blizzards with herds of sheep tethered to the ground before him, that led to his nickname 'Frozen Mutton Farquharson' but pictures like When the West with Evening Glows prove that not all of his pictures are inhabited by sheep and he was able to capture a similar pathos to that of John Atkinson Grimshaw. The wintry landscape with its deep drifts of snow amid the rosy hues of dawning or gloaming light, are the signature elements of Farquharson’s greatest works and here they are rendered with great sophistication and technical virtuosity. The quality of the present picture is proved by its purchase by the mustard magnate Sir Jeremiah Colman who owned a fine collection of Victorian masterpieces including Alma-Tadema’s The Finding of Moses, Burne-Jones’ Love and the Pilgrim (Tate Britain), the second large version of Watts’ Hope (private collection) and Landseer’s The Cat’s Paw (private collection).
Joseph Farquharson (no relative of the painter David Farquharson) was born in Edinburgh in 1836, the younger son of Francis, a doctor in the city and laird of the estate of Finzean. Joseph was educated in Edinburgh and permitted by his father to paint only on Saturdays using his father's paint box. At the age of 12 Francis bought his son his first paints of his own and only a year later the young artist exhibited his first painting at the Royal Scottish Academy. The scottish animal painter Peter Graham became his tutor and taught him for over twelve years and the influence of Graham's wild landscapes and intelligent depiction of animals within it, was deep and lasting upon Farquharson. Farquharson also studied at the Board of Manufacture School in Edinburgh and at in the Life School at the Royal Scottish Academy.
In 1873 Farquharson travelled to Paris and like many artists of his generation he undertook a period of study in the atelier of a French academician, in his case the great Carolus-Duran. Although Farquharson made several trips to Egypt through the mid 1880s and 1890s and painted scenes of Arabic life, his great success of 1883 The Joyless Winter Day set a precident for many of his later paintings and he became well known for his powerful and exquisite depictions of sheep in wintery highland settings. Farquharson exhibited at least one painting of sheep virtually every year at the Royal Academy in London and his total number of exhibits at the Academy amounted to over 200. He was not made a full member of the Royal Academy until 1915 and it was with the success and panache of pictures such as the present lot with which he found great fame.
In later life Farquharson became more and more bound to his home at Finzean in Aberdeenshire, and his responsibilities as laird, which he inherited after the death of his older brother Robert Farquharson MP in 1918. He increasingly painted still lifes and botanical studies in his garden rather than the more dramatic subjects of animals with which he had made his name. A patriotic Scotsman, his home was said to be carpeted throughout in tartan, a carpet much trodden by the numerous parties which took place there. When he died in 1935 aged 89 it was thought by many that he was the oldest artist alive as his career had been so long and his fame so wide reaching.
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