Thomas Faed was born in the Scottish lowlands in Kirkcudbright. He taught himself paining by copying prints of old engravings, and then working outdoors. After his father's death, he went to Edinburgh, joining and studying under his elder brother John Faed. He also studied at the Art School Board of Manufactures, where Sir William Allan was master, and his fellow pupils included W. Q. Orchardson and Erskine Nicol. He became ARSA in 1849 (when he was only 23), and in 1852 settled in London. His reputation was established with his early work at the Royal Academy, A Mitherless Bairn (1855). He followed this with a series of similar scenes of Scottish domestic life in a strongly realist idiom, often choosing the poor, berieved or otherwise unfortunate as his subjects. Another of his frequent subjects, equally approved of in Victorian society, was the pretty girl.
Faed became ARA in 1861 and RA soon thereafter. He exhibited almost 100 paintings at the Academy, until 1893. In that year he became almost blind and retired, and resigned his membership of the Academy.
Faed's most important work, The Mitherless Bairn is in the Melbourne Art Gallery, Australia. Representative works may be seen at the Tate Gallery (A Highland Mother, Faults on Both Sides and The Silken Gown. In the Leicester Art Gallery is Pot Luck (1866), and at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool is In Time of War, showing a wife left at home with three children.
Top of pageOther artists