Lieutenant Colonel J.M. Delamere – Seventh Commanding Officer, 1897-1901. The original 43.5″ x 31″ oil on canvass painting by celebrated Canadian portrait artist J. W. L. Forster, hangs in the Queen’s Own Rifles Officers’ Mess. Photo by Christopher Lawson, June 17, 2010.

John Wycliffe Lowes Forster, Canadian portrait painter, was born in Norval, Ontario in 1850. He began his artistic training in Toronto in 1869 as an apprentice to the portrait painter John Wesley Bridgman (1833-1902). In 1871 he was awarded first prize in the amateur class at the annual fair of Upper Canada Agricultural Society for his portrait of Bridgman. In 1879 Forster studied for three months at the South Kensington Art School in London with Canadian landscape painter Charles Stuart Millard (1837-1917). A short time later, he enrolled at the Académie Julian in Paris, where he studied for the next three years under Gustave Boulanger (1824-1888), William Adolph Bouguereau (1825-1905), Tony Robert-Fleury (1837-1911), and Carolus-Duran (1838-1917). Upon returning to Canada in 1883, Forster set up his own studio in Toronto, became a member of the Ontario Society of Artists and the Royal Canadian Academy, and quickly gained aclaim for his portraits of notable people, including Bliss Carmen (1861-1929), Timothy Eaton (1834-1907), Sir Wilfred Laurier (1841-1919), and Queen Victoria (1819-1901).

Throughout his life, Forster was a strong supporter of the work of the United Church. As a delegate to the World’s Sunday School Convention in Tokyo in 1920, he was commissioned to paint the portrait of the Emperor and Empress of Japan. In 1931, he was approached to paint the portrait of Dr. Daniel Norman (active 1897-ca.1935), one of the missionaries with whom he stayed while travelling in Japan. G.W. Lynd, pastor of the Temperanceville United Church in Aurora, Ontario, Norman’s boyhood church, initiated a subscription project to pay for the portrait and Forster, in part, donated his services. Forster died in Toronto in 1938.

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