James Lawson Balfour

Australia, b.1870, d.1966

Portrait of Samuel Charles Farr

  • Purchased, 1984
  • Oil on canvas
  • 633 x 535mm
  • 84/29
  • c. 1907

Samuel Charles Farr was a British architect who came to New Zealand in 1850. He designed many public buildings and churches in Christchurch and was also secretary for 22 years of the Canterbury Acclimatisation Society, which aimed to stock the province with fish and to acclimatise the bumblebee.

When James Balfour came to Christchurch in 1900 he taught at Canterbury College School of Art and established a successful studio as a portrait painter, finding a ready clientele amongst the old identities of Canterbury. Although trained in an academic style, Balfour developed a freer, broader style.

Balfour was born in Melbourne and studied in London, then Paris. He exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Royal Institute of Painters. During his years in Christchurch he exhibited with the Canterbury Society of Arts and in the ‘New Zealand International Exhibition’, 1906/1907. Balfour returned to London in 1908 but by 1912 was living in Sydney where he established himself as a portrait painter and took private pupils.