Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Burnet, James M.
BURNET, JAMES M. (1788–1816), landscape-painter, brother of John Burnet [q. v.], painter and line engraver, was born in 1788 at Musselburgh, and showed an early fondness for painting. He was first placed with a wood-carver, but found other opportunities of study at ‘Graham's Evening Academy.’ In 1810 he came to London. He there found his elder brother at work upon an engraving of Wilkie's ‘Blind Fiddler.’ Delighted with that painting, he was led to study the Dutch school, of which he became an ardent disciple. He did not join the Academy schools, but worked directly from nature. Living at Chelsea, he found his subjects in what then were the ‘pasture lands’ of Battersea and Fulham. In 1812 he first exhibited at the Royal Academy, his work being ‘Evening: Cattle returning home.’ Later he contributed ‘Midday,’ and ‘The Return in the Evening’ (1813), ‘Early Morning,’ and ‘The Ploughman returning home’ (1814). ‘Crossing the Brook,’ ‘Breaking the Ice,’ and ‘Milking-time’ were others of his works; all pictures of high promise. He was of delicate health. In consequence of an attack of consumption he removed from Chelsea to Lee, Kent, and there died in 1816. He was buried in Lewisham churchyard. Burnet was a painter from whom much might have been hoped. His work was based upon a loving study of nature and a reverent attention to the masterpieces of Dutch art. ‘He had a true feeling for the rural and picturesque; his pictures were rich and brilliant in colour, luminous and powerful in effect.’[Bryan's Dict. of Painters; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists of Engl. School.]