PEEL, James

1811 - 1906

James Peel, was born at Westage Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 1 July and baptised at St John, Newcastle on 28 July 1811, son of Thomas Peel, woollen draper (died 24 April 1822), partner in the firm of Fenwick, Reid & Co., and his wife Elizabeth née Martinson who married at Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 25 January 1807. James was educated at Bruce's School, Newcastle where Alexander Dalziel (1781-1832), father of the wood engravers the Dalziel Brothers, first taught him drawing. In 1840, James came to London as a portrait painter and amongst his early work were full-sized copies of Wilkie's 'Blind Fiddler' and 'The Village Festival' now in the National Gallery, as well as portraits and miniatures. He then decided to confine himself wholly to landscape painting which he exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1843 until 1888 and at the Royal Society of British Artists from 1845 onwards. He exhibited at the Suffolk Fine Art Association [q.v.] at Ipswich in 1850, four works 'Canal View, Yorkshire', 'Showery Day: Banks of a River', 'In Wensley Dale, Yorkshire' and 'Todmorden Vale'. His pictures made their mark by their feeling for nature and excellent drawing, especially of trees and three of his works, 'A Lane in Berwickshire,' 'Cotherstone, Yorkshire,' and 'Pont-y-pant, Wales,' are now in the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, where a loan exhibition of his works was held in 1907. In 1841 he was living at Priestgate, Darlington, the home of Thomas Blyth, a house & sign writer and his family, and he married Thomas's eldest daughter, Sarah Martha Blyth (1825-1853) on 30 May 1849. They had two children Arthur, born in 1850 and Margaret in 1852 who died at Branson House, Darlington on 17 January 1853 and his 28 year old wife followed on 13 October 1853, when James came to London. In 1855 he exhibited at the National Institute of Fine Arts at the Portland Gallery, Regent's Street, London 'Woodcutters in Alnwick Park' and in 1861 admitted a member of the Royal Society of British Artists, of which he became a leading supporter and, with Ford Madox Brown (1821-1893), William Bell Scott (1811-1890) and other artists, an organiser of 'free' exhibitions like those of the Dudley Gallery and of the Portland Gallery. He continued working until his death at his home, Western Elms Lodge, Oxford Road, Reading, on 28 January 1906.

Works by This Artist