David Farquharson

(17 November 1840 - 12 July 1907)

Landscape painter, born at Lochend Cottage, Blairgowrie, was the younger son in the family of five children of Alexander Farquharson, dykebuilder there, and Susan Clark his wife. He served an apprenticeship in the shop of a painter and decorator in Blairgowrie in which was working about the same time another artist, William Geddes, who afterwards won a considerable reputation as a painter of fish. After following his trade in the south of Scotland, Farquharson returned to his native town, and with his brother started the business of A. and D. Farquharson, housepainters. On the dissolution of this partnership he devoted himself to the art of landscape painting, which, with little or no regular training, he had long practised in a desultory way. His first appearance at the Royal Scottish Academy, in 1868, was with a Solway landscape, and his sketching expeditions had already taken him as far as Ireland; but his main subjects throughout his career were found in his native glens and the Perthshire and western highlands.

About 1872-3 Farquharson removed to Edinburgh, and until 1882 had a studio there at 16 Picardy Place. His 'Last Furrow,' exhibited at the Scottish Academy in 1878, was purchased and engraved by the Royal Association for the Promotion of Fine Arts. It was followed by 'Noon-day Rest' (R.S.A. 1879), 'Sheep-plunging' (R.A. 1880), 'The Links of Forth' (R.S.A. 1883). In 1882 he was elected A.R.S.A., and in the same year he removed to London, setthng at first in St. John's Wood, but spending many months each year in painting in the Scottish highlands and the west of England, with one or two visits to Holland. From 1886 onwards he was a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy, where he first exhibited in 1877, and he contributed once or twice to the New Gallery, while his work was always on view at the galleries of Messrs. Tooth. In 1897 his picture at the Royal Academy, 'In a Fog,' was purchased for 420l. under the Chantrey Bequest.

By this time Farquharson had settled finally at Sennen Cove, Cornwall, which gave him the subject for a large landscape, 'Full Moon and Spring Tide,' hung in the place of honour in the large gallery in the Academy of 1904. This striking canvas, painted when the artist was sixty-four, first brought him into public notice, and it won him the associateship of the Royal Academy in the same year. With the exception of one or two of the foundation members, no artist became associated with the Academy at so advanced an age. 'Full Moon and Spring Tide' reappeared at the winter exhibition of the Academy in 1909, in the McCulloch collection, into which it had passed with several other of his large canvases, and again at the winter exhibition of 1911, with a selection of the painter's works, after his death. It was thus on view at Burlington House on three separate occasions in seven years -- probably a unique record.

Farquharson's latest pictures included 'Birnam Wood' (R.A. 1906), also purchased by the Chantrey Trustees, and 'Dark Tintagel' (R.A. 1907). These, like all his large works, were painted with a broad and facile brush and a feeling for the large aspect of nature, but lacked the research and refinement of smaller landscapes painted earlier in the artist's life. The Manchester Art Gallery possesses one of Farquharson's oil-paintings; and there are two in the Glasgow Art Galleries.

Farquharson died at Balmore, Birnam, Perthshire, on 12 July 1907, and was buried in Little Dunkeld churchyard. Early in life he married Mary Irvine, whom he met in Ireland. She died in 1868. A son and daughter survived him.

[Scotsman, 13 July 1907; The Times, 13 July 1907; Graves, Royal Acad. Exhibitors, 1906; Cats. of Royal Acad, and Royal Scot. Acad.]; Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement, by David Storrar Meldrum]

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