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Born in Ontario Canada, Elizabeth Armstrong came to England to study at the South Kensington schools before going to New York to attend the Art Students League, where she was influenced by artists such as Millet and Bastien Lepage. She then went to Munich where she studied under the American artist William Merrit Chase. After her education, she spent a period of time working as an illustrator, painter and engraver in Canada. In 1882, she went to Brittany to paint directly from nature in the open air, influenced directly by the plein-air movement. Having heard of a growing art colony in Newlyn, she moved to Cornwall in 1885. It was here where she met the painter Alexander Stanhope Forbes, whom she married in 1889. Together, the couple established The Newlyn School of Art in 1899. Elizabeth Stanhope Forbes and her husband were both prominent members of The Newlyn School of Painters, who, during the 1880’s and 1890’s were the leading pioneers of ‘plein-air’ painting in Britain.

She continued to paint and exhibited widely across Britain, including the Liverpool Autumn Exhibitions. She died in 1912, at a young age of 52, however, within her lifetime; she had exhibited more paintings than her husband, and was commended in her obituary as the ‘Queen of Newlyn’.

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