Friday, December 14, 2012
Born in Kingston, Ontario, Elizabeth Armstrong was the only daughter of William Armstrong, a government employee in Canada. She was educated privately in Canada & then continued her artistic studies in England with her mother as chaperone. Her father died 2 months after she left Canada, after which she & her mother lived with an uncle in Chelsea, London.
In the 1870s, she studied at the South Kensington Art School (now the Royal College of Art). In 1878 Armstrong returned with her mother to Canada, & she continued her studies at the Art Students League of New York, where her mentor & friend was William Merritt Chase. From there she & her mother moved to Munich, where Chase had studied before her.
Apparently unhappy due to the disadvantages of being a female art student, she moved on in 1882, accompanied by her mother, to the artists colony at Pont-Aven in Brittany. While there she started to exhibit her works sending watercolours to the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours in London. They returned home to London, where her uncle helped her set up her own studio, continuing as a regular exhibitor at several galleries, including the Royal Academy.
In 1885, Armstrong & her mother moved to Newlyn, Cornwall. She established a studio in Newlyn, sharing the building with a fisherman who stored & repaired nets in the space. She became a popular figure in the artistic community of Newlyn, where she actively participated in the town's artistic & drama organizations.
In 1889 she married Newlyn School painter Stanhope Alexander Forbes. Their son, Alec, was born in 1893. In 1893 she won a Gold Medal for an oil painting at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. In 1900, Forbes held an exhibition called Children & Child Lore in London. She died in 1912 .