Hall, James 1800?-1854, advocate and amateur painter, was the third and youngest son of Sir James Hall, bart., of Dunglass, the geologist [qv.]. He was born about 1800, and was educated for the legal profession. At the general election in June 1841, and again in February 1842, he was an unsuccessful candidate in the conservative interest for the borough of Taunton. But it was as a patron of art and an amateur portrait-painter that he was best known. He was a student of the Royal Academy, and became the friend of John Watson Gordon, Collins, Allan, and especially of Sir David Wilkie, many of whose studies and sketches he possessed, and whose favourite palette he presented to the National Gallery, where it now adorns the pedestal of Samuel Joseph's marble statue of Wilkie. He was a liberal donor to the funds of the British Institution, and both there and at the Royal Academy was an occasional exhibitor of portraits and Scottish scenery between 1835 and 1854. Among his landscapes were The real Scenery of the Bride of Lammermuir, From Burns's Monument in Ayrshire—the Island of Arran in the distance, The Pentland Hills near Edinburgh, Dunglass, Tantallon Castle, and The Linn at Ashiesteel, where it enters the Tweed. He painted a full-length portrait of Sir Walter Scott, whose manuscript of Waverley he gave to the Advocates' Library at Edinburgh, and in 1838 he sent to the Royal Academy a portrait of the Duke of Wellington. His success as an artist, however, was not so great as it might have been if he had given his undivided attention to painting. His studio at 40 Brewer Street, Golden Square, was shared by Sir John Watson Gordon when in London for a short time in the season. He also wrote some speculative letters on Binocular Perspective, which appeared in the Art Journal for March and August 1852, and were reviewed by Sir David Brewster. Hall died unmarried at Ashestiel, Selkirkshire, the residence of his sister, Lady Russell, on 26 Oct. 1854, aged 54. A half-length portrait of him was left unfinished by Sir David Wilkie.
Scotsman, 1 Nov. 1854
Art Journal, 1854, p. 364
Gent. Mag., 1855, i. 90
Allan Cunningham's Life of Sir David Wilkie, 1843
Royal Academy Exhibition Catalogues, 1835-53
British Institution Exhibition Catalogues (Living Artists), 1837-54.
Contributor: R. E. G. [Robert Edmund Graves]