Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Saxon, James

SAXON, JAMES (d. 1817?), portrait-painter, born at Manchester, was son of John Saxon of that town. He entered the Manchester grammar school in January 1783. In 1797 he was in practice in as a portrait-painter at 4 York Street, Manchester, but shortly afterwards migrated to London, exhibiting portraits at the Royal Academy in 1795 and 1796. He visited Scotland in 1805, and painted the portrait of John Clerk of Eldin [q. v.], the background of which, exhibiting a system of naval evolution conceived by Clerk, was by William Anderson (1757–1837) [q. v.] This now hangs in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. In the same year he painted a portrait of Sir Walter Scott—an excellent likeness—which was engraved in stipple by James Heath, as an illustration to the ‘Lady of the Lake,’ 1810. A companion portrait, of Lady Scott, now at Abbotsford, Saxon painted in 1810; it was engraved by G. B. Shaw for Lockhart's ‘Life of Scott.’ Saxon afterwards went to St. Petersburg, where he practised successfully for several years. On his return he spent a short time in Glasgow, when he painted the portrait of David Hamilton, architect. He finally settled again in London. At the Royal Academy he exhibited seventeen portraits between 1795 and 1817. He died in London about 1817. Saxon's portrait of Sir Richard Phillips [q. v.] is in the National Portrait Gallery, London. His portraits are happy in characterisation, and show the influence of Opie.

[Smith's Manchester School Register, ii. 121; Manchester Directories; information kindly supplied by James L. Caw, esq., Scottish National Portrait Gallery, and James D. Milner, esq., National Portrait Gallery, London; Graves's Dict. of Artists; Redgrave's Dict.]

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