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The following are excerpts from the text by Bernie Quayle, the artist's grandson:
EC Quayle was born on December 3rd, 1872. He was christened Edward but in later life, adopted the middle name Christian. This was to honour the generosity of the Christian Buck family who had sponsored his education. Edward displayed a great deal of artistic talent all the way through school, so much so that a member of the Christian Buck family, related to his father through marriage, sponsored his continued education. Quayle's art studies began at the University College, Liverpool under the tutorship of John Finnie. He had gained the scholarship of the Lancashire County Council in December 1891 which he held for three years. He became one of the schools most outstanding students and as a result, gained a scholarship to the South Kensington School of Art in London. It was here that Edward excelled in all mediums - pastel, oil, watercolour, oil, and monochrome He gained another scholarship, this time to the world renowned Slade School of Art in London. On completion of his formal art studies, EC Quayle returned to Wavertree where he shared a studio with Richard (Dick) Wane in North John Street, Liverpool. Wane was also an artist who loved to paint in the Isle of Man.
It was on one of E.C's many visits to an artistes supply shop that he met Margaret Mary Kerr, a counter assistant. He married Margaret in 1894, and resided at 10, Camperdown Street, Birkenhead. It was here that the first of their four sons was born on February 15th, 1901. Edward was not only named after his father and grandfather but was also given his father's adopted middle name as a further mark of respect for the Christian Buck family sponsorship. Second son, Frank, was also born in Birkenhead and was still a babe in arms when the family moved to the Island.
The artist had established quite a name for himself among the Liverpool shipping community and received numerous commissions. Liverpool was then the busiest port in Britain, not only for shipping but for ship building.
EC loved country walks, often taking his family with him on picnics as he would sketch or paint the scenery.
Their first Manx (Isle of Man) home was on Ballanard Road, Douglas. The family next resided at "Victoria Mount" Victoria Road Douglas. It was here that sons Leo and Robert were born. Their next home was a cottage in the small village of Abbeylands. . It was there that son EC junior developed skills as a carpenter. He was later to qualify as a master carpenter and cabinet maker - just like his grandfather Ned. He was often employed to construct the stretchers and easels for his father's canvas. He also made frames for many of the paintings that were hawked around pubs and markets to feed the family. Many of these, EC referred to as "pot-boilers" often producing as many as four in one day and not always good examples of his real talent. He had a particular love for the Dutch school of painters and copied many of the old masters for a company in Manchester who specialised in classic reproductions. There was also a lucrative trade in paintings to be used as postcards: click here for examples.
The first E. C. Quayle studio was on Prospect Hill, Douglas, followed by the Villiers Chambers and then Allan Street in Douglas. Photography was still quite new and parents thought nothing of having their children painted by leading artists.
The Isle of Man was home to quite a colony of artists and writers in the early part of the 20th century. They would often get together at pubs or reading rooms. At one such meeting, in the Barrack Street reading rooms, (now "Outback" disco) Quayle sketched caricatures of the following associates during their lively debate; Those included in the sketch were Percy Rigby, Frank Pritchard, Archibald Knox, John Holland, Peter Chisholm, Fred Leach, John Radcliffe, Noah Moore and others whose names were indecipherable on the sketches.
Many of the UK's leading artists visited the Isle of Man and invariably, they would meet up with the local painters. Most often it would be the old Reading Rooms in Barrack Street, just yards away from the home of Archbald Knox.
A popular venue on Sunday afternoons was fellow artist John Holland's home in Victoria Avenue where music was played on an imported American organ. Many brought their own instruments such as flute and fiddle. The fun would continue long into the night. According to my father these very talented artists would often go out on location together to capture the Manx scenery. My father would be called on to drive a pony and trap, hired for the day from the livery stable in Drumgold Street, later to become the Dogs Home pub. Dad recalled a time when he drove EC Quayle, Butterworth and Holland to Niarbyl. The three artists were left with their easels, a hamper of food and wine while Dad went off to Peel for the day. At dusk he collected the party all of whom had consumed copious amounts of wine and they sang merrily all the way back to Douglas . Dad commented on how all three artists had painted the same scene but their interpretations were all so different. Below, the artist at work in Niarbyl, photographed by his son Eddie. On the right is EC Quayle's view looking South from Niarbyl to Bradda Head, another favourite location.
The Manx countryside was one of EC Quayle's great delights and he travelled countless miles on foot, train and even as a pillion passenger on EC junior’s “Flying Banana” Wooler motorbike. But Quayle's first love was the sea and the magnificent coastline of the island. He painted the Old Red Pier so many times it almost became his trade mark. Samuel Norris, founder of Norris Modern Press, said of him in the Manx Year Book for 1939; "he has painted more pictures of the Isle of Man than any other artist, living or dead."
As a child of eight, EC Quayle junior remembered the day he saw his father moved to tears, reading a telegraphed notice in the window of the post office - the steamship Ellan Vannin had sunk in the Liverpool Bar. Many of those who died in the tragedy were close friends of the artist. He retreated to his studio and didn't emerge until he had graphically captured the scene in oils. The picture was displayed in the window of Bregazzi's on Prospect Hill but was withdrawn a few days later by request of the Steam Packet Company out of respect for the grieving families. Some years later it hung above the bar of the Prospect Hotel, in Douglas. It's present location is unknown, if anyone has any clue to the whereabouts, please let me know. It was hailed by many as one of Quayle's finest works, an example of his motto: "as you see it - paint it."
Submitted by Pauline Quayle DeHaven
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