Portrait by Constance Copeman

FINNIE, John  [1829-1907]

John Finnie, a Scot born in Aberdeen in 1829, came to Liverpool to take up a position as an art teacher in 1855. He was to remain in the city for over 50 years, becoming a dominant personality in the art life of Liverpool, and establish a reputation for his mezzotint engravings and landscape paintings.

Whilst his first employment did involve him holding a paintbrush it was hardly one to herald his future eminence – he was apprenticed to an Edinburgh housepainter. Later however, he obtained employment at Newcastle with William Wailes, who was the owner of one of England’s largest stained-glass workshops. During his 5-year stay at Newcastle Finnie took the opportunity to attend the school of design under the Scottish artist William Scott Bell. He then moved to London to teach and study at the Central School of Design before securing his post at Liverpool.

Finnie joined the Liverpool Mechanics Institute just as it changed its name to the Liverpool Institute and School of Art. This was the forerunner of the Liverpool Institute School and the Liverpool School of Art. He held many positions in the Liverpool art world, being President of the Liverpool Academy 1887-88. On his retirement from the art school in 1896 he moved to Towyn in North Wales. After a bout of influenza in 1905 which caused damage to his heart he returned to Liverpool in 1905 where he died in 1907. A memorial exhibition comprising some 438 of his works was held later that year at the Walker Art Gallery, which still contains many examples of his work.

Shortly after arriving in Liverpool, in 1858, he married Agnes Japp, a widow, at St James Church, Toxteth. They lived at 8 Cambridge Street L7, moving to 274 Upper Parliament Street L8 (both addresses now demolished). Prior to his move to Towyn he lived at 20 Huskisson Street L8.

20 Huskisson Street L8

Finnie's home from c.1890 to 1898.

Moel Siabod from Capel Curig

An example of Finnie's landscapes. c 1860.


The Wikipedia entry gives a good account of his career.