Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Finnie, John

1517848Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement, Volume 2 — Finnie, John1912Campbell Dodgson

FINNIE, JOHN (1829–1907), landscape painter and engraver, son of John Finnie, brassfounder, by his wife Christian Mclndoe, was born at Aberdeen, where he was baptised in the parish church on 4 May 1829. After serving apprenticeships to a house-painter at Edinburgh and a japanner at Wolverhampton he obtained employment with William Wales, a glass -painter at Newcastle, where he remained five years, attending the school of design under William Bell Scott [q. v.]. In 1853 he went to London, where he studied and taught in the Central School of Design at Marlborough House till, in 1855, he became master of the School of Art, then called the Mechanics' Institution, at Liverpool. In this position he continued forty-one years and six months, retiring at Christmas 1896. He is described as the dominating personality in the art life of Liverpool during that period. He began to send to the Liverpool Academy-exhibitions in 1856, became an associate in 1861, a full member and trustee in 1865, and was president of the academy in 1887-8. He was also president of the Artists' Club and of the Liver Sketching Club. He joined the Royal Cambrian Academy in 1894 and became its treasurer in 1897. His earliest etching, the 'Head of Windermere,' dates from 1864. After some early experiments in etching and engraving Finnie adopted mezzotint as his favourite process in 1886. Though he exhibited pictures at the Royal Academy from 1861 onwards, and also at the British Institution and in Suffolk Street, he was best known in London by his original mezzotint engravings of landscape, exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Royal Society of Painters, Etchers, and Engravers, of which he became an associate on 24 Oct. 1887, and a fellow on 6 April 1895. He sent forty-seven contributions in all to the society's gallery. His etchings and mezzotints, which are represented by specimens in the print-room of the British Museum, aim too much at a full pictorial effect, instead of observing the restrictions of graphic art. As a painter he is represented in the Walker Art Gallery at Liverpool. On retiring from the School of Art, in 1896, Finnie broke up his home in Huskisson Street and settled at Tywyn, near Llandudno, where he spent his life in painting, engraving, and music. He retained full vigour until an attack of influenza injured his heart in 1905. He returned to Liverpool, where he died on 27 Feb. 1907. He was buried at Smithdown Road cemetery beside his wife, Agnes James Ellison, who died on 8 July 1889. One son. Dr. Ellison Finnie, survived him. A memorial exhibition of his art, comprising 438 numbers, was held at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, in 1907.

[Biographical Sketch by E. Rimbault Dibdin in Cat. of Finnie Memorial Exhibition, Liverpool, 1907; Graves, Royal Acad. Exhibitors, 1905; H. C. Marillier, The Liverpool School of Painters, 1904, p. 119.]

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