Stark, James (DNB00)

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STARK, JAMES (1794–1859), landscape-painter, was the son of Michael Stark, a native of Scotland, who settled as a dyer in Norwich, where his son was born on 19 Nov. 1794. The boy showed an early fondness for drawing, and in 1811 was articled for three years to John Crome [q. v.], the landscape-painter, whose son, the younger Crome, had been his schoolfellow and companion. In the same year he sent five landscapes to the exhibition of the Norwich Society of Artists, of which he was elected a member in 1812. In 1811 also he exhibited for the first time in London, sending to the Royal Academy a ‘View on King-Street River, Norwich.’ In 1814 he came to London, and sent to the British Institution a ‘Village Scene near Norwich,’ and in 1815 ‘The Bathing Place: Morning.’ These were followed in 1817 by ‘Fishing,’ and in 1818 by ‘Penning the Flock’ and ‘Lambeth, looking towards Westminster Bridge,’ and he was awarded by the directors a premium of 50l. In 1817 he was admitted a student of the Royal Academy. He began to receive commissions from several leading connoisseurs, but before long he was compelled by illness to return home, and for three years he did no work. In 1830, after an absence of twelve years, he came back to London, and took up his residence in Chelsea, sending his works to the exhibitions of the Royal Academy and the Society of British Artists, and still more frequently to that of the British Institution. In 1834 was completed the ‘Scenery of the Rivers of Norfolk,’ engraved from Stark's pictures by Edward Goodall, William Miller, George Cooke, and others, with text by J. W. Robberds. The publication of this fine and costly work had been commenced in 1827, and the artist narrowly escaped serious pecuniary loss. About 1839 he removed to Windsor, where he painted many pictures of the scenery of the Thames, but in 1849 he returned again to London, for the sake of his son's education in art.

Stark's style was based on that of Crome, but it was much influenced by study of the Dutch masters. It was very truthful and thoroughly English, but it lacked the richness and power of his master. An exhibition of his works was held by the Norwich Art Circle in 1887. The National Gallery possesses his ‘Valley of the Yare, near Thorpe,’ of which there is an etching by Francis S. Walker, and the National Gallery of Scotland a view in ‘Gowbarrow Park.’ Three views at Hastings, a distant view of Windsor, and two other landscapes are in the Sheepshanks collection in the South Kensington Museum, and a ‘Landscape with Cattle’ is in the Mappin Art Gallery at Sheffield. His picture of ‘Sheep-washing, Postwick Grove, Norwich,’ has been engraved in mezzotint by Alfred Skrimshire.

Stark died at Mornington Place, Hampstead Road, London, on 24 March 1859. His son, Arthur James Stark, is a landscape-painter of merit, who has exhibited at the Royal Academy and elsewhere since 1848.

[Art Journal, 1850 p. 182 with portrait, 1859 p. 135; Redgrave's Century of Painters of the English School, 1866, ii. 372–4; Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, ed. Graves and Armstrong, 1886–9, ii. 526; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists of the English School, 1878; Exhibition Catalogues of the Royal Academy, British Institution (Living Artists), Society of British Artists, 1811–59, and Norwich Society of Artists, 1811–25.]

R. E. G.