Leigh, James Mathews (DNB00)

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LEIGH, JAMES MATHEWS (1808–1860), painter and author, born in 1808, was nephew of Charles Mathews the elder [q. v.], and the son of a well-known bookseller in the Strand. He studied painting under William Etty, R.A. [q. v.], and adopted the line of historical painting. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1830, sending 'Joseph presenting his Brethren to Pharaoh' and 'Jephthah's Vow.' Soon after he made a long visit to the continent to study the works of the old masters. About this time also he devoted himself to literature, and published privately in 1838 'Cromwell,' an historical play in five acts, and later 'The Rhenish Album.' After a second visit to the continent Leigh resumed work as a painter, and continued to send sacred subjects or portraits to the Royal Academy and other exhibitions up to 1849. Leigh is better known as a teacher of drawing than as a painter. He started a well-known painting school in Newman Street, Oxford Street, which was largely attended, and was a formidable rival to the better-known school kept by Henry Sass [q. v.] Leigh died in London on 20 April 1860. His son, Henry Sambrooke Leigh, is separately noticed.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1700-1880; obituary notices; Royal Academy Catalogues.]

L. C.