Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Holmes, James

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HOLMES, JAMES (1777–1860), painter, born in 1777, was first apprenticed to an engraver. He made some progress in engraving, and in 1800 engraved in stipple a portrait of Thomas Clio Rickman after Hazlitt. On the termination of his apprenticeship he gave up engraving and turned his attention to water-colour painting. In 1813 he became a member of the Society of Painters in Water-colours, and sent two pictures, ‘Hot Porridge’ and ‘The Married Man,’ to their exhibition. He continued to contribute small-subject pictures and an occasional portrait to that exhibition until 1820. In 1819 he exhibited two miniatures at the Royal Academy, and about the same time was led to try painting in oils. In 1822 he ceased to be a member of the Society of Painters in Water-colours, and actively assisted to establish the Society of British Artists, who held their first exhibition in Suffolk Street in 1824. Holmes became a member in 1829, and a constant exhibitor, chiefly in miniatures, up to 1850, when he resigned his membership. He devoted himself latterly to miniature-painting, and had many distinguished sitters. He painted some miniature portraits of Lord Byron, two of which were engraved. Holmes's paintings were esteemed for careful finish and good colour. His genial character and musical talents gained him the personal friendship of George IV. Holmes retired to spend his later years in Shropshire, and died on 24 Feb. 1860. Some of his pictures were engraved for publications, such as ‘The Amulet,’ ‘The Literary Souvenir,’ &c.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760–1880; Exhibition Catalogues.]

L. C.