Emily Farmer

(25 July 1826 - 8 May 1905)

Water-colour painter, was one of the three children of John Biker Farmer, of the East India Company's service, by his wife Frances Ann, daughter of William Churchill Frost. Alexander Farmer, a twin brother of her sister Frances, was an artist; he exhibited at the Royal Academy and elsewhere from 1855 to 1867, and is represented in the Victoria and Albert Museum by two small oil paintings of genre subjects; he died on 28 March 1869. Emily Farmer was bom in Portchester, Hampshire, London. She was educated entirely at home, and received instruction in art from her brother. In early life Miss Farmer painted miniatures, but she is best known for her refined and well-drawn groups of children and other genre subjects. She exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1847, and again in 1849 and 1850. In 1854 she was elected a member of the New Society (now the Royal Institute) of Painters in Water Colours, and she was a frequent contributor to its exhibitions until the year of her death. She resided for more than fifty years at Portchester House, Portchester, Hampshire, where she died on 8 May 1905. She is buried, with her mother, sister, and brother, in the churchyard of St. Mary's within the castle at Portchester. The Victoria and Albert Museum has two water-colour drawings by Miss Farmer, viz. 'In Doubt' and 'Kitty's Breakfast' (1883).

Her best-known work is 'Deceiving Granny,' which was extensively reproduced. An oil portrait of Miss Farmer by her brother Alexander belongs to Miss M. A. Waller of Portchesler.


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Emily Farmer was one of three children of John Biker Farmer, who worked for the East India Company, and his wife Frances Ann (née Frost). She was home-educated and instructed in art by her brother Alexander Farmer, a genre painter.

She initially painted miniatures, exhibiting two at the Royal Academy in 1847 and 1849, but from 1850 specialised in genre paintings, many of children in rustic surroundings. 'Kitty's Breakfast' (1883), a picture of a girl in a cottage kitchen pouring a saucer of milk for a kitten, is typical of her style. This, along with 'In doubt' (1881), is held at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Other well-known works include 'Deceiving Granny' (1860), 'The Primrose Seller' (1867), 'The ABC Class' (1863), 'The Undecided Purchaser' (1864), and 'The Listener' (1872).

In 1854 she was elected a member of the New Society of Painters in Water Colours to whose exhibitions she sent ninety-six paintings over a fifty year period. She also showed works at the Liverpool Academy and the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour.

Over this period she lived at Portchester House, Portchester, Hampshire, where she died in 1905. She is buried in St Mary's churchyard, Portchester.

[Miss M. A. Waller; Cataloguos of oils and water-colours, Victoria and Albert Museum; Graves, Art Journal, 1905.]
[Dict, of Artists, Roy. Acad. Exhibitors, and British Institution Exhibitors; Cat. of the Roy. Acad, and Roy. Inst. of Painters in Water Colours; Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. II, B. S. Long, 1912;en.Wikipedia div