Peel RBA, James (1811-1906)

Peel RBA, James (1811-1906)

Hailing from Newcastle, England, James Peel was a distinguished painter known predominantly for landscapes. His approach was naturalistic in style and he was celebrated as an accomplished draughtsman. He was particularly adept at capturing extensive depth with distant hills and enjoyed the rolling scenery of Northumbria, Wales, and the Lake District. He travelled on occasion with his close friend, Benjamin Williams Leader (1831-1923).

His works were shown at the Royal Academy, the British Institution, and the Royal Society of British Artists where he became a member. He’s represented at the V&A.


Royal Academy, Royal Society of British Artists, British Institution, Suffolk Fine Arts Association, National Institute of Fine Arts at the Portland Gallery where he was a founder, The Bewick Club, Art Association of Montreal, Dudley Gallery.

Public Collections

V&A Museum, Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle, Campbeltown Museum, Darlington Library, Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow Museums Resource Centre (GMRC), Godalming Museum, Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds Museums and Galleries, The National Library of Wales, Newport Museum and Art Gallery, Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Shipley Art Gallery, Southampton City Art Gallery, Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, The Cooper Gallery, The Whitaker, Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, William Morris Gallery, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, York Art Gallery.



Born in Newcastle, England to Thomas Peel, a wine and woollen merchant, and Elizabeth Martinson.

Initially trained as an attorney.

Studied drawing under Alexander Dalziel (1781-1832).

C. 1834

Debuted at the Newcastle upon Tyne Institution for the General Promotion of the Fine Arts with a portrait of “Rev. Syme”.


Travelled to London to paint portraits.


Lived in Darlington with Thomas Blyth, a house & sign writer and his family.


Debuted at the Royal Society of British Artists with “The Antiquary”.


Debuted at the Royal Academy with ‘Quoit Players’ and ‘The Flute Player’. He continued to exhibit until 1888.


Debuted at the British Institution.


Lived in Darlington.


Married Sarah Martha Blyth. The pair would have two children. Sarah passed away in 1853.


Lived on The Strand, Westminster, London, with his brother Archibald, along with a porter and a housekeeper. Occupation recorded in the census as ‘Landscape Artist’.


Married Mary Gaffan in St Johns, Newcastle.


Moved to London.
Travelled to Scotland with Benjamin Williams Leader.


Lived in Barnes, Surrey, with his wife and three children. It’s interesting to consider whether he knew of the ‘Barnes School’ of painters (the Williams family) who had their studio in Barnes.


Elected a member of the Royal Society of British Artists.
Lived in Edmonton, Middlesex, with his wife and three children.


Lived in Walthamstow, Essex, with his wife, four children, brother, sister-in-law, and staff. His daughter Amy Peel is recorded as a Landscape Painter.


Lived in Enfield, Middlesex, with his daughter, son, grandchild and a servant.


Lived in St Mary, Berkshire, with his daughter Florence and his grandchildren.


Reviewed in the Newcastle Daily Journal during an exhibition at the Bewick Club.

“At the Bewick Club Exhibition in the Church Institute, Newcastle, Mr James Peel, R.B.A., the veteran landscape painter, is showing four pictures. This is extraordinary - extraordinary when one considers that it is more than 90 years since Mr Peel was born in Westgate Road, opposite St. John's Church, Newcastle. And how charming are these pictures of his, in a style all his own - pictures so true to nature, and in which the expression of the composition or subject is never obscured by the expression or display of the art. The four pictures are ‘Pasture Land, Berwickshire,’ ‘The Miller's Home,’ ‘Hambleton Common,’ and ‘The King's Meadows-on-Tyne.’

They are delightful pictures, every one of them; but let me say a word in particular about the last. ‘The King's Meadows’ shows the site of Elswick Works as it used to be, when the green meadow was there, the flowers, and shrubbery. It shows the fair island in the stream, and Whickham Hill beyond. It is a historic picture admirably executed, the picture of a historic place, bound up with the records, grave and gay, of the life of Newcastle as it used to be. It is a picture by a great artist, a native artist, and the most venerable of living artists. Well, if I had £20 to spare, this picture would never leave Newcastle; because I would go straight away and buy it for presentation to the Laing Art Gallery.”


Died in Reading.


Newcastle Daily Chronicle

“From time to time there have been many references made to the work of Mr. James Peel, the well-known artist Mr. Peel, whose death is announced was in his 95th year. He was born in 1811, in Westgate Road, in a house situated not many yards from where I write. Leaving his native town when about 30 years of age, James Peel settled in London, where he won fame as an artist, some of his landscapes entitling him to a first place among his contemporaries. Mr. Peel was, I believe, taught to draw by the grandfather of the Dalziels. The deceased artist was educated at the well-known Percy Street Academy, and for a considerable time previous to his death he was the oldest of ‘Bruce's Old Boys.’ He would probably be the oldest Novocastrian. The latter part of Mr. Peel's life was spent at Reading.”

London Evening Standard

“Mr. James Peel, R.B.A., died on Sunday last, at the residence of his daughter, Western Elms Lodge, Reading, in his ninety-fifth year. Born at Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1811, Mr. Peel had lived in five reigns, and well remembered the coronation of George IV. After being educated at Newcastle, he soon developed a talent for drawing and painting, and put himself under the tuition of Alexander Dalziel, father of the famous wood engravers. He came to London in 1840. He was the oldest member of the Royal Society of British Artists, was one of the originators of the Portland Gallery, and exhibited for many years at the Royal Academy. He was an intimate friend of Mr. B. W. Leader, R.A., and also of Sir Wyke Bayliss, President of the Royal Society of British Artists. Up to a few days before his death Mr. Peel had enjoyed vigorous Health, despite his advanced age, and had never been confined to his bed for a single day.”

The Times

“Mr James Peel, R.B.A., who was for more than half a century a well-known landscape painter, died on the 28th., at Reading, at the home of his daughter. He was born in 1811, and had thus reached the great age of 94. Born and educated at Newcastle-on-Tyne, he had for his schoolfellows and early friends the late Sir Charles Mark Palmer and John Collingwood Bruce, afterwards the eminent antiquary.

His first art master was the elder Dalziel; and in 1840 he came to London to work at the National Gallery and to paint portraits, from which he soon passed to landscape. He was one of the early organisers of ‘independent’ exhibitions, such as the Portland Gallery and the Dudley Gallery; a work of which he was associated with Madox Brown, W. B. Scott, and other men of talent.

His landscapes, shown chiefly at the Royal Academy and in Suffolk Street, quickly made their mark, and several of them were bought for provincial galleries and for clients, especially in Newcastle. He continued to exhibit till quite recently, and his work was always marked by a sincere feeling for nature and by excellent drawing, especially of trees. He was one of the strongest, as well as the oldest, of the members of the Royal Society of British Artists. To the very end he retained his vigour of mind, as well as the sweetness of disposition which endeared him to many friends.”

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