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Francis Edward James RWS RBA NEAC (1849-1920)

Francis Edward James, RWS RBA NEAC (1849-1920)

‘Perhaps the revelation of the season to the public ... are the watercolours of Mr Francis E James. I am deliberately convinced that watercolour has never been used more brilliantly and to more purely artistic effect by any master, living or dead.’ (Walter Sickert, ‘The New English Art Club’,
New York Herald, 14 June 1889)

Francis James was a watercolourist of exceptional delicacy and freedom, and contemporaries likened his landscapes and flower subjects to the work of the Japanese. He developed his art in the orbit of both James McNeill Whistler and Hercules Brabazon Brabazon, and joined the New English Art Club as an associate of the Impressionist nucleus, becoming one of the club’s most regular exhibitors.

Francis James was born in Willingdon, Sussex, on 16 February 1849, the youngest of five children of the Reverend Henry James, Rector of St Mary Willingdon, and his wife, Eliza Mary Mann (née Eliot), the daughter of Lieutenant Colonel William Granville Eliot. His father died in 1850, following a fall while climbing Beachy Head, and by 1851 the family had moved to 7 Richmond Terrace, Brighton.

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