Forshaw Day

Painting of Lake Ainslie, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia circa 1875 by Forshaw Day.

Born in 1831 in Stepney, London, Forshaw Day studied architecture and design at the Royal Dublin Society and South Kensington Art Schools in London before immigrating to Halifax in 1862.

Unlike Nichols and DesBarres, Day’s training was specific to the arts and he was known as Nova Scotia’s first professional landscape painter. His paintings were often displayed in the windows of Julius Cornelius' jewellery shop on Granville Street, showing the connections between the artistic communities in Halifax at the time.

Day created picturesque scenes of the Nova Scotian landscape that began in a traditional English pastoral style and later evolved into realism. His paintings portray the rugged landscape, rather than the urban scenes that were often represented in work by his contemporaries.

Historical landscape oil painting of Waverley by Forshaw Day.

The Waverley Goldfields, Nova Scotia c. 1865, by Forshaw Day.

Courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada.

His paintings of Nova Scotia also reflect the public interests during the time. Gold was discovered at Waverley in 1861, and the Waverley Gold Mining Company included his painting The Waverley Gold Fields in the provincial submission for the international Dublin exhibition in 1865. These paintings appealed to the larger Nova Scotian community.

Day accepted the position of Professor of Freehand Drawing at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario in 1879, and in 1880 he was selected as one of the founding members of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. He was also a member of the Ontario Society of Artists.

Forshaw Day retired in 1897, and died in Kingston in 1903.