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James Baker Pyne RBA (1800-1870)

James Baker Pyne, RBA (1800-1870)

Though he seems to have taught himself to paint, James Baker Pyne developed into a significant landscape painter, first as a member of the Bristol School, and then as a spirited follower of J M W Turner.

James Baker Pyne was born in Bristol on 5 December 1800. In accordance with his parents’ wishes, he was articled to an attorney, but abandoned law at the age of 21 to pursue his interest in art. Apparently self-taught, he absorbed the influence of other Bristol painters, especially Francis Danby, whose characteristic dark, poetic tones reappear in Pyne’s early landscapes of the local area.

Pyne’s artistic development was supported by an increasing local interest in the visual arts. The Bristol Institution for the Promotion of Literature, Science and the Fine Arts, in Park Street, was founded in 1823, and held inaugural exhibitions of Old Masters and contemporary artists in 1824. The contemporary exhibition – called in some sources the ‘Bristol Gallery of Arts’ – was organised by a number of leading artists, including Edward Villiers Rippingille and Samuel Jackson, the latter taking responsibility for its hanging.

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