Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Chalmers, George Paul

CHALMERS, GEORGE PAUL (1836–1878), painter, was born at Montrose in 1836, and educated at the burgh school of that town. Notwithstanding a juvenile precocity in drawing, he was apprenticed to an apothecary, and afterwards became clerk to a ship-chandler. Finally he determined to be a painter, and abandoned these base pursuits. He studied at Edinburgh in the Trustees' School, and maintained himself the while by painting portraits. His first exhibited picture was ‘A Boy's Head’ in chalk. A portrait head of J. Pettie, R.A., was exhibited in 1863, and a subject piece, ‘The Favourite Air,’ in the following year. In 1867 he was elected associate of the Scottish Academy, and in 1871 a full member.

To the Royal Academy of London he sent six works between 1863 and 1876. He painted portraits, subject pictures, and landscapes—the last especially in his later years. ‘These were remarkable for their richness of colour.’ In general he was a careful and even fastidious painter, taking high rank with his brother Scots. On 15 Feb. 1878 he attended the Scotch Academy dinner. Returning thence (and ‘from a subsequent engagement with some brother artists’) evil befell him. Apparently he was attacked and robbed. At least he was found by the police in an area ‘with his pockets rifled.’ He never recovered from this accident, and died on the 20th of the same month. Appreciative notices of Chalmers appeared in the ‘Art Journal’ and in the ‘Academy’ at the time of his death. Shortly before that event the ‘Portfolio’ published an etching by Paul Rajon after one of his pictures.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists; Art Journal, xvii. 124; Academy, 23 Feb. 1878.]

E. R.