Collinson, James (DNB00)

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COLLINSON, JAMES (1826?–1881), painter, born at Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, about 1835, was the son of a bookseller. He entered the Royal Academy School, and was also a fellow-student with Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. He did not give much sign of talent until 1847, when he exhibited at the Royal Academy a picture called 'The Charity Boy's Debut.' The earnest and truthful work shown in this picture attracted the attention of Rossetti, who sought Collinson's friendship, and on the formation of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood induced him to become one of the original seven 'brothers.' Collinson, however, was of a slow temperament, and incapable of partaking in the enthusiasm which the others displayed, and having recently embraced the Roman catholic religion, displayed more of zeal in the practice thereof than in his art. He devoted, however, considerable time and labour to the execution of a picture according to the pre-Raphaelite laws, viz. 'An Incident in the Life of St. Elizabeth of Hungary,' an illustration to Charles Kingsley's 'Saint's Tragedy.' This was exhibited at the Portland Gallery in 1851, and excited some attention. To the pre-Raphaelite periodical, 'The Germ,' for 1850 he contributed a devotional poem in blank verse, entitled 'The Child Jesus,' accompanied by an etching illustrative of a passage in the poem. Shortly after this Collinson quitted the pre-Raphaelite ranks and retired to Stonyhurst, remaining there a long time in seclusion. About 1854 he emerged again, married a connection of J. R. Herbert, R.A., and resumed his profession as an artist. Abandoning all ideas of adventure or ambition, he confined himself to small subjects of a domestic and humorous character, and continued to exhibit at the Royal Academy, British Institution, and the Society of British Artists, of which he was a fellow, up to 1880. His pictures latterly did not rise above commonplace work, but some have been engraved, e.g. 'To Let' and 'For Sale' (Royal Academy, 1858), and ' Good for a Cold.' Collinson lived a very retired life, though he was much respected by those who knew him, and at his death in April 1881 had almost passed out of the memory of his old associates.

[Athenæum, 9 April 1881; Contemporary Review, May 1883; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760-1880; Catalogues of the Royal Academy, &c.; private information.]

L. C.