Elected ARSA: 13 November 1850

Elected RSA: 10 February 1858

James Archer, R.S.A., the oldest Member of the Academy, was born at Edinburgh in 1823. He was educated at the High School, and, having a decided taste for Art, became a student of the Board of Trustees’ School of Design. His first exhibit in the Royal Scottish Academy  was in 1812, “The Child John in the Wilderness.” From that year he was a frequent and liberal contributor to the Annual Exhibition till 1867, when, following his removal

to London, his contributions became less frequent. In 1884 he visited the United States, and two years later went to India. After three years’ residence there he returned to London in 1889.


Among his important works are :—“ The Last Supper,” 1849; “The Douglas Tragedy,” 1850; “The Old Oak Chest,” 1852; “Hamlet the Dane,” 1853; “Rosalind and Celia” (Diploma Work), 1854; “Portrait of The Earl of Kintore,” 1854; “The Shadow on the Path,” 1857; “In Time of War,’ 1858; “The Harvest Field—Evening,” 1859; “Fair Rosamond and Queen Eleanor,” 1860; “La Morte d’Arthur,” 1861; “ King Arthur in Quest of his Mystic Sword

Excalibur,’ 1862 “ Sir Launcelot looks on Queen Guinevere,” 1864 ;“ Parting of Arthur and Guinevere,’ 1865 ;“ Henry II and Fair Rosamond,” 1868; “ Fair Helen of Kirkconnel,” 1870; “The Heather Gatherers—Surrey,’ 1871; “The Three Sisters,” 1874; ‘ Portrait of Professor Blackie” (now in the Library), 1876; “Portrait of Sir Daniel Macnee” (now in the Library), 1877; “The late Earl of Dalhousie,” 1890; “O lang, lang, may their ladies sit” (Sir Patrick Spens), 1894.


He was elected an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1850 and attained the rank of Academician in 1858. In April 1900 he was appointed by the Academy its Representative Trustee of the British Institution Scholarship Fund in room of the late W. E. Lockhart, R.S.A.

His death took place at Hazlemere, Surrey, on 5th September.

RSA Obituary, transcribed from the 1904 RSA Annual Report

Further Images

James Archer RSA (1822-1904), Rosalind and Celia

Oil on canvas, around 1854, 93 x 72.1cm

RSA Diploma Collection (Deposited, 1856 or 1858) 1995.034