Caroline Farncomb was born in Newcastle, Ontario in 1859, and moved to London, Ontario with her family in 1867. Her art practice included work in still life, portraits, and landscapes.
Farncomb’s art education began in London and included lessons with local artists Florence Carlyle and Cleménce Van Den Broeck, as well as studies at Hellmuth Ladies College, and the Western School of Art and Design. Farncomb also studied at the New York Art Students League (NYSAL), and, funded by the Women’s Art Club of London, attended the Académie Julian in Paris. While the exact years of Farncomb’s various studies are unclear, she may have been at the Académie Julian c.1912.
Farncomb opened her own studio in London, presumably in the 1890s. She also served as the secretary for a local art association, likely the Woman’s Art Club of London, of which she was a member. She was also at times a member of the Western Art League.
Caroline Farncomb’s works appeared in numerous exhibitions throughout her career.
Before her studies with Florence Carlyle, Farncomb won prizes at shows at London, Ontario’s Western Fair – two in 1879, another in 1882 (2nd prize), and four more in 1896 (1st prize in three categories, and 2nd prize in another). Farncomb was also recognized with first place standings at shows in Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. From 1893 onwards, she exhibited with the Women’s Art Association of Canada, as well as with the Woman’s Art Club of London.
Farncomb often took part in exhibitions at the Art Association of Montreal (the precursor to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts) between 1900 and 1909, and with the Royal Canadian Academy (RCA) from 1899 to 1908. Her work was also part of annual shows at the Toronto Industrial Exhibition (later renamed the Canadian National Exhibition) between 1897 and 1908; the fine arts department of the venue was managed by the Ontario Society of Artists (OSA), an organization with which Farncomb also exhibited regularly from 1897 to 1909. While she was elected a member of the OSA 1908 (and remained a member until 1912), she was not offered formal membership status with the RCA.
Farncomb continued to display her work in London as well, including at the city’s first permanent art gallery, which was built in 1912; in shows held by the Nicholas Wilson Chapter of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (I.O.D.E.) in the Falls of 1925 and 1926; and a 1932 exhibition organized by the Women’s Canadian Club.
In the spring of 1926, when London was forming a city art collection, she was among eight artists requested by the Nicholas Wilson chapter of the I.O.D.E. to donate a foundational work.
Caroline Farncomb passed away in 1951.
Biography by Natalka Duncan and Luvneet K. Rana
SOURCES, Caroline Farncomb
Florence Carlyle; Mary Ella Dignam; Emily Mary Gunn Fried; Dorothy (Betts) Seely-Smith;
Clémence van den Broeck
Click here for information about works by Caroline Farncomb
in McIntosh Gallery’s collection.