1872 - 1946
The most prolific Manx artist of the 20th Century.
Compiled by his grandson, Manx Radio presenter Bernie Quayle
was not quite 6 years old when Granddad died, but I do have vivid and happy
memories of someone, who, for a child, was quite magical. For
example, after a meal of good old Manx broth, he would take the crusts
of bread, open the window, clap his hands and within seconds, a
pair of seagulls landed on the sill. He fed them by hand and had
names for each. I know now that there is nothing unusual about
that, gulls get to know where they are going to be fed, but to a child, granddad was
something special because it seemed, he could summon them up out of nowhere.
The information that follows has been gleaned from many conversations with my father who was also named Edward Christian.
photographer, my father left a legacy of
wonderful albums including many handwritten notes with useful information such as names and dates.
here for Photographic Legacy of EC Quayle jnr.
Both of the artist's parents were Manx but EC Quayle was born in
Birkenhead. His father, Edward (Ned) Quayle
was a cabinet maker with a flourishing business on Wellroad Hill
Douglas, coincidentally, former American Vice President J. Danforth
Quayle's great grandfather was also a cabinet maker on Wellroad
Hill but I don't think we are related. Pictured left is Ned Quayle with
his grandson Leo.
Quayle's fame had spread to Merseyside, and it was there he secured
the contract for furnishing
So the family moved to
and 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.
art studies began at the
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.
was on one of E.C's many visits to an
artistes supply shop that he met Margaret Mary Kerr, a counter
assistant. Pictured right in 1944.
Margaret in 1894, and resided at 10, Camperdown
t 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
Second son, Frank, was
also born in
and was still a babe in arms when the family moved to the
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. The artist received numerous commissions, one example is
on the left: click on the picture for an enlargement and clarification on
handwritten request from the ship builders Cammell Laird. Seascapes were
E.C. Quayle's speciality and in the early part of the 20th
century the waters around Liverpool were filled with tall
ships. He loved to paint the tall ships, two examples are included
These unidentified clippers
on the right were done as a pair for one of the shipping
companies in Liverpool around about 1920.
In 1981 the one on top came up for auction and my father bought it as a
birthday gift for me, it is a mystery as to what happened to its
below. It is a photograph
taken by my father, who was often asked to keep a photographic
record of the artist's work. Dad thought that the clipper on the
bottom was the Cutty Sark, but there is some doubt.
EC loved country walks, often
taking his family with him on picnics as he would sketch or
paint the scenery. The picture below on the left is thought
to be somewhere on the Wirral. On the right is
Ballasalla which is a view from directly behind the Whitestone
Pictured in the middle,
The artist is with son Leo, in Baldwin, close to their Abbeylands
pictures to enlarge
first Manx home was on
Ballanard Road, Douglas. The
family next resided at "Victoria Mount"
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.
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
Douglas. Photography was still quite new and parents thought nothing of having
their children painted by leading artists. The portrait on the
right was acquired by local art dealer Allan Kelly and has since been sold on.
Allan thought this portrait could have been one of the E.C. Quayle children, and if you
look at the photograph of old Ned Quayle with Leo above, Allan may well
be right, it is remarkably like Leo.
Note the signature, it is one of three ways he signed
his paintings. Most often he would sign, E C Quayle, or E Christian
Quayle and on some, just simply his initials ECQ.
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
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. This caricature was
contained in an old portfolio my father showed me in the early 1980s. When
my parents sold their house and moved into a flat, the portfolio went missing
and has never been found. That old leather
the artist's studies of anatomy from his days at the Slade School of art. Those sketches reminded me of the famous Leonardo DaVinci drawings.
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. My grandfather often
corresponded with them and I have reproduced an example here of a letter he
Not only did Percy reply to
granddad's letter, he even sketched on the letter.
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
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.
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."
Old Red Pier
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
It was hailed by many as one of Quayle's finest works, an example of his motto:
"as you see it - paint it."
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The Archibald Knox Connection
Knox was a close friend of Quayle, and was an inspiration to ECQ's third son
who sought the tuition of Archibald Knox. Leo was
proud to be told by that great artist "I've
learned a great deal about watercolour technique
from your father, he is one of the finest in the
On the left: EC Quayle by Knox
On the right: Archibald Knox by Quayle
Click on the pictures to enlarge.
Click below to visit the
of Leo Quayle's paintings are around today, but few may
realise that the well known logo of the Manx
Viking Wheelers cycling club was designed by Leo
at the request of his brother Eddie, a founder
member of the club.
On the left is a self portrait of the artist (click on it
to enlarge) this was done at the request of his son Eddie
in 1923, hence the signature "Yours truly."
E.C. Quayle was
quiet by nature, never seeking publicity.
It took others to recognise his potential and promote his work.
art dealer along with Phillip Christian, arranged an exhibition of his
work at the Villa Marina in 1922. The exhibition featured 140 works in all mediums and was opened by the Governor, Sir
William Fry. Following this, there
were exhibitions in
London. Exhibition poster
would carry a sketch pad with him wherever he went. If a
scene appealed, he'd sketch it, make notes and sometime later,
paint it back in his studio.
It could be the way the sun reflected on a building or the
composition of a boat in the bay. Below are two such
sketches, Douglas harbour and bay.
Son Edward developed a
similar habit, but he carried a camera wherever
I have also created an album of my father's photographs click
and Painting where general classes were held every Thursday - a
course of ten lessons costing £1 and five shillings.
Private tuition was charged at five shillings per lesson.
Among his students was a budding young artist,
Same name, but
Click to enlarge
|Alec was a very keen
cyclist and would join my parents and the cycling club
every Sunday, you'll see him in racing action in Dad's
Thanks to Alan Kelly of
Mannin Art Collections in Peel, I have reproduced a page
from Alec's diary dated 7th April 1943 in which he
recalls a visit with ECQ for tuition.
ECQ formed the Isle of Man Art club and the inaugural
meeting was featured
in the Isle of Man Examiner. To see the reproduction of the Examiner article more detail:
last years of the
were spent with his wife Margaret in an apartment above
Kelly's the basket
on North Quay, Douglas. His window provided him with the scenes of
the busy harbour he so dearly
loved and painted
so many times. E.C. Quayle died peacefully in that
September 8th 1946
Click on the picture gallery to see more of his paintings:
Manx Museum has a large collection of E.C. Quayle
paintings which are displayed from time to time. There
will be more photographs of his work included
for visiting and
please check back from
time to time for updates
To visit my own website:
click on my picture.
your pictures and memories about the artist: click