Leakey, James (DNB00)

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LEAKEY, JAMES (1775–1866), artist, was born 20 Sept. 1775 at Exeter, where his father, John Leakey, was engaged in the wool trade. At the time of Sir Joshua Reynolds's death he was about to become his pupil. Leakey established himself at Exeter, painting portraits, miniatures, landscapes, and small interiors with groups of rustic figures. The last, which were somewhat Dutch in treatment and highly finished, met with great favour, and Sir Francis Baring purchased one for 500l. But Leakey is best known by his miniatures, which were painted in oils on ivory with extreme delicacy and refinement. These brought him much local celebrity, and they are to be met with in many Devonshire houses. With the exception of a residence in London from 1821 to 1825, during which he was intimate with Lawrence, Wilkie, and other leading painters, Leakey's life was passed at Exeter. He exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1821 'The Marvellous Tale,' in 1822 'The Fortune Teller,' in 1838 portraits and landscapes, and in 1846 'The Distressed Wife.' Leakey died at Exeter on 16 Feb. 1865. By his marriage, in 1815, with Miss Eliza Hubbard Woolmer he had eleven children.

In the Exeter guildhall there is a good portrait by Leakey of Henry Blackhall, mayor of Exeter; also a copy by him of Reynolds's portrait of John Rolle Walters, M.P. His portrait of James Haddy James, surgeon, is in the Devonshire and Exeter Hospital. In 1846 Leakey published a plate by Samuel Cousins, R.A., from his portrait of John Rashdall, minister of Bedford Chapel, Exeter.

One of Leakey's daughters, Caroline Woolmer Leakey (1827-1881), was a religious writer of ability. She resided for some years in Tasmania, and published 'Lyra Australis, or Attempts to Sing in a Strange Land,' London, 1854, 8vo, and 'The Broad Arrow; being Passages from the History of Maida Gwynnham, a Lifer, by Oline Keese,' London, 1859; new edit. 1886. A memoir of her, with the title 'Clear, Shining Light,' has been published by her sister Emily.

[Bryan's Diet, of Painters and Engravers (Armstrong); Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Exeter Gazette, February 1865; Rycroft's Art in Devonshire, 1883; information from the family.]

F. M. O'D.