Edward Christian  Quayle
1872 - 1946
The most prolific Manx artist of the 20th Century.
Compiled by his grandson, Manx Radio presenter Bernie Quayle

I 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.  A keen photographer, my father left a legacy of 
wonderful albums including many handwritten notes with useful information such as names and dates.

Click 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 in 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.

Ned Quayle's fame had spread to Merseyside, and it was there he secured the contract for furnishing Wavertree Town Hall. So the family moved to Liverpool 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.  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. Pictured right in 1944.  He married Margaret in 1894, and resided at 10, Camperdown Street, Birkenhead. I 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 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.  The artist  received numerous commissions, one example is on the left: click on the picture for an enlargement and clarification on this 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 here.

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 twin
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 Inn. Pictured in the middle, The artist is with son Leo, in Baldwin, close to their Abbeylands home.

  Click pictures to enlarge

 

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Their first Manx 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 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.

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. 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 portfolio included 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 received from Percy Davis.  (Click to enlarge)  Not only did Percy reply to granddad's letter, he even sketched on the letter.

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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."

Old Red Pier

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."

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The Archibald Knox Connection


Archibald Knox was a close friend of Quayle, and was an inspiration to ECQ's third son Leo 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 business." 
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 
Archibald Knox website

Many 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.  A Southport 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 Liverpool, Manchester and London. Exhibition poster

E.C. Quayle 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 he went.
I have also created an album of my father's photographs click here.

EC started the School of Drawing 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,  Alec Quayle.  Same name, but no relation.


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 picture gallery. 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:    Click here  The last years of  the artist's life were spent with his wife Margaret in an apartment above Kelly's the basket  weavers shop 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 apartment on September 8th 1946 .   Click on the picture gallery to see more of his paintings:


The 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 soon.

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Bernie Quayle


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