FARQUHAR McGILLIVRAY KNOWLES
1859 – 1932
Boys fishing in a Cornish harbour
Oil on panel
Signed & dated 1894
Frame size: 10½ x 13¾ inches / 26.6 x 34.9 cm
Stock number: 099596/0718
Farquhar McGillivray Knowles (22 May 1859 – 9 April 1932) was an American painter who spent much of his life in Canada. He was best known for his seascapes.
Farquhar McGillivray Strachan Stewart Knowles was born IN New York. His parents were Scottish in origin. Around 1863 they returned to Canada, where Knowles was educated in Guelph, Ontario. Due to the influence of his military grandfather he enrolled in the artillery at the military academy in West Point around 1877. He suffered a serious accident in his fourth year which ruled out a military career.
Knowles found work in New York City retouching photographs and took some art courses there. He returned to Canada where he found employment with the William Notman and John Fraser photographic studios in Toronto. He added colour to their portrait photographs of wealthy customers. The studio’s co-owner was John A. Fraser, R.C.A., an accomplished watercolour artist, who instructed him in painting miniatures and watercolours. In 1885 McGillivray Knowles went to Europe, where he studied painting in England and France. Knowles married Ada Cullen, who died in 1887.
Knowles was elected an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1889 based on his reputation as a watercolour artist. He married his former student Elizabeth Annie Beach. They went to Europe in 1891. Knowles studied in England for two years under Sir Hubert von Herkomer, R.A., and then in Paris for four years under Benjamin Constant, Jean-Paul Laurens, Henri Gervais and Veir Schmidt.
The couple returned to Canada and opened a school of painting, design, ceramics and life classes. Their studio in Toronto became a meeting place for artists. Knowles became renowned for his harbour scenes and seascapes, and also painted decorative murals in the houses of wealthy patrons.
The couple spent 1916 living on their yacht in New York Harbour, where Knowles painted the harbour. At this time, he was aged fifty-seven. They returned to Toronto, but in 1920 moved to New York. They took an apartment in Washington Heights, Manhattan. They often returned to Canada and participated in the main exhibitions, including the annual exhibitions of the Royal Canadian Academy.
Farquhar and Elizabeth Knowles had a studio at their summer residence in Riverton, New Hampshire. Elizabeth McGillivray Knowles died in 1928 in Lancaster, New Hampshire. In 1931 Farquhar Knowles married Lila Taylor, an artist and former student. Farquhar McGillivray Knowles died in Toronto on 9 April 1932.