Lot #69

Kenneth Forbes
Figure in an Autumn Landscape

oil on canvas
28 x 38 ins ( 71.1 x 96.5 cms )

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Auction Estimate: $700.00$500.00 - $700.00
Price Realized: $480.00
Family of the Artist

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Kenneth Keith Forbes
(1892 - 1980)

Born in Toronto, Ontario, son of John Colin and Laura Gertrude (Holbrook) Forbes. He started drawing at the age of four and received instruction from his father, a distinguished portrait painter. He was educated in Westmount Academy and then studied art in England at the St. John’s Wood Art Schools, London (1908); with Stanhope A. Forbes at the Newlyn School of Painting, Newlyn, Cornwall, England (1909); Hospital Field Art School, Arbroath, Scotland; with Henry Tonks and William Steer at Slade School, London (c.1910); with C.M.Q. Orchardson at London New Art School, London (1913).

One of his paintings was accepted by the Royal Academy in London in 1910 and purchased for the Lord Leverhulme collection. While an art student, he was active as a boxer, and continued boxing in his army career when he became a private in 1914 in the Stock Exchange Battalion, London, of the Royal Fusiliers. He saw service in France in the machine gun corps and was wounded twice, mentioned in dispatches twice, and was invalided to England in 1916. He was promoted to Lieut., Machine Gun Corps, later, Captain, 2nd in Command, 32nd Machine Gun Corps.

He was recalled to London and transferred to Canadian War Records Office as a painter. He painted two large canvases, “The Defence of Sanctuary Wood and Canadian Artillery in Action”, and four portraits. In 1919, he married Jean Edgehill, who was an artist in her own right. They had one daughter, also an artist, Laura June McCormack (1921-61). He later returned to Toronto, where he resumed his career painting mainly portraits and occasional landscapes.

“The Toronto Star Weekly” (1924) noted, “… A young Canadian painter, resident in London, has won fresh laurels in the person of Kenneth Forbes…at present living in Toronto. Mr. Kenneth Forbes has had three of his recent pictures hung in this year’s Royal Academy. For the past five years, he has had paintings accepted by the Royal Academy and it is conceded that he is destined to become recognized as one of the most famous painters of women in the British Isles.” Two of these portraits were of his wife entitled, “The Earrings” and “The Artist’s Wife”. In 1932, he won the Thomas R. Proctor prize, awarded by the National Academy of Design of United States for the best portrait, one of Captain Melville Millar, former commander of a U.S. army cavalry troop which had as its chief scout Col. William Cody. Millar was also active in art circles in Toronto. Forbes won a second Proctor Award in 1940 for a portrait of his wife, My Wife and Velasquez.

He was once quoted on his approach to painting as follows, “Traditional art is based on resemblance to nature, but to become a work of art it must have conception, composition and style, none of which is found in photographs.”

He died in Toronto at the age of 88.

Literature Source:
"A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume 1: A-F, 5th Edition, Revised and Expanded", compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1997