Elected ARSA: 15 March 1911

Elected RSA: 2 August 1922

J. Whitelaw Hamilton, whose unexpected death occurred in the Autumn of last year, at the age of 71, was born in 1862 and educated in Glasgow, but practically all his life was associated with Helensburgh to which his parents removed when he was three years old, while he was in business with his father he began his close friendly relations with James Guthrie and KH. A. Walton and others of the later Glasgow School and painted with them, as an amateur, at Cockburns- path. Quitting business finally in 1886 he went to Paris with Joseph Crawhall, Roche being already there, and studied for three sessions under Dagnan-Bouveret and Aimé Morot. On his return he shared a studio with Roche in Glasgow. His carefully composed landscapes, often with a distinguishing note of a cold blue, have long been a feature in all important exhibitions. The subjects were drawn from Scotland and England, Eyemouth and Berwickshire particularly, and from Yorkshire and Northumberland. He exhibited extensively on the Continent. In Munich, where he joined the Secession, one of his works entitled ‘‘ Evening” received a gold medal; it is now in the Pinakothek. Other towns in Germany which have examples of his works are Dresden and Weimar. The King of Italy created him Chevalier of the Order of the Crown, and he had works purchased by Queen Margharita, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, by the Chamber of Commerce, Venice, andin Rome. In America, St. Louis has his “Clyde Shipyard,” and he is represented in Buffalo and Pittsburg. There are also good examples in the Modern Arts Collection in Edinburgh and at Kelvingrove, Glasgow. Hamilton was elected an Associate member of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1911 and a full member in 1922. His Diploma work is typical, and is entitled “Storm Clouds, Strathfillan.” He was a member of the Royal Scottish Water Colour Society and an Associate of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters, and Engravers. His activities apart from Art were very extensive. Highly esteemed as a man of affairs, his opinion was heard with the greatest respect in the Council of the Academy and elsewhere. He was particularly notable for his success as a ‘‘ hanger,’ and his services for this difficult and arduous task were greatly in request by the Academy and the Glasgow Institute, of which he was the Honorary Secretary for some time, and Vice- President. A Governor of the Glasgow School of Art at his death, he also served the interests of the Scottish Artists’ Benevolent Association with the greatest devotion for a very long period as Treasurer, and latterly as President. He was appointed a member of the recently created Royal Fine Arts Commission for Scotland. As noted, the late Sir James Guthrie and Hamilton were lifelong and intimate friends; Guthrie’s Diploma picture, ‘‘ Midsummer,” was painted in the garden of “The Grange,” Helensburgh, Hamilton’s home. Guthrie also painted a portrait of Lieutenant A. Leslie Hamilton, who was killed in the War, the only son of our late member.


Transcribed from the 1932 RSA Annual Report

Further Images

James Whitelaw Hamilton RSA (1860-1932), Stormclouds, Strathfillan

Oil on canvas, around 1919-20, 86.7 x 112.9cm (support)

RSA Diploma Collection (Deposited, 1922) 2000.085