Farquharson’s father, an Edinburgh-based doctor and amateur artist, was also the 10th laird of the Finzean estate in the Dee Valley of Aberdeenshire. His precociously talented younger son first exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1861, aged fifteen. His studies at the Trustees’ Academy and the RSA Life Schools were supplemented by mentoring from the Scottish landscape painter Peter Graham, a family friend. By 1873 Farquharson had a London studio and had set his sights on the Royal Academy, eventually being elected an Associate in 1890 and Academician in 1915. From 1880 several winters were spent in the Paris studio of Carolus-Duran where Joseph formed an important friendship with Sargent, then a fellow student. Between 1885 and 1893 Farquharson made several visits to Egypt in pursuit of figure subjects for exhibition at the Academy. But his popular reputation became and has remained almost synonymous with his many evocative snow scenes of Aberdeenshire – much admired by Walter Sickert for their sheer painterliness and technical virtuosity. Joseph finally inherited Finzean in 1918.