Biography

Birth date: 4 December 1869
Birth place: Australia: Victoria, Melbourne
Death date: 18 February 1951
Death place: Australia: Victoria, Melbourne, Prahran
Final rank: Lieutenant
Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

James Quinn's parents died when he was young. He grew up with guardians who apprenticed the young Quinn to an engraver, while attending classes part time at the National Gallery of Victoria School under the tutelage of Frederick McCubbin in 1887-89, and at the school of painting under George Folingsby and Bernard Hall in 1890-93. He was awarded several student prizes including the travelling scholarship in 1893.

Embarking on the scholarship in 1894, Quinn travelled to London and then Paris where he studied at the Academie-Julian and then the Academie des Beaux-Arts under Jean Paul Laurens. In 1902, he returned to London and married fellow student Blanch Louise Guernier. By 1904 he had established himself as a portrait painter and was exhibiting with the Royal Academy in London. He was well known for his sensitive painting; as a result he received many high profile portrait commissions, including politician Joseph Chamberlain, the Duchess of York, and later the Duke of Windsor.

In 1918-1919, he was engaged as an official war artist for the AIF in France. He produced 18 portraits of significant AIF service personnel, mostly generals, for the Memorial's collection. In 1919, James Quinn joined fellow Australian George Coates, working as an official war artist for Canada. Throughout the next 20 years he took on organisational roles and exhibited regularly with the London Portrait Society, the Royal Society of Portrait painters and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. His connections in France would see him exhibit with the old and new salons in Paris.

In 1935, he returned to Australia alone following the death of his much beloved and talented son Rene. In Australia, he continued to exhibit with the Fine Art Society in Melbourne and the Royal South Australian Society of Arts. As President of the Victorian Artist's Society from 1937 to 1950, excepting one year, he continued to exhibit as an artist of renown until his death in 1951.

Rolls and Awards

Collection Items

Art

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Queen Consort, (later Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother), wearing a diamond tiara, pearl necklace, evening dress and holding a fan, badges of orders are on her left shoulder. Elizabeth married Prince Albert, Duke of York (later George VI) on April 26, 1923 and she became...

ART12595

Australian official war artists 1916-1918

Depicts many Australian official war artists who were attached to different divisions of the AIF during the First World War, in a group portrait. The painting was originally owned by Cyril Steele of Melbourne. It was noted that the painting was considered to be an example of Coates' work that was...

ART15334

Not titled [Sketchbook containing 7 drawings from the Western Front]

Sketchbook by First World War official war artist James Quinn containing landscapes and street scenes made in France in 1918. The sketchbook comprised 26pp, 8pp of drawings, hard buff covers and includes several studies of details in pencil and pastel with ART19884.008 verso, and inside back cover...

ART19884

General Sir William Birdwood

Major General Sir (later Field Marshal Lord) William Riddell Birdwood (of ANZAC, Bt), GCB, GCMG, CIE, DSO, was selected from the Indian Army 1914 to command the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. He supervised the Corps during its training in Egypt and led it during the Gallipoli campaign in...

ART03338

Major General Thomas William Glasgow

In 1918 official war artist James Quinn received instruction to complete the portrait of Major General (later Sir) Thomas William Glasgow KCB(M), CMG, CB(M), and DSO. William "Bill" Glasgow was one of the most renowned Australian soldiers of the First World War, a politician, and later a diplomat....

ART03341

Major Thomas Grice

Little is known about this portrait of Major Thomas Grice, which was completed by Australian artist James Quinn. It is likely this portrait was painted posthumously, and based on a photograph from 1915 that is the same in uniform and pose (see P08936.003 in the Memorial’s collection). Grice was...

ART19559

Lieutenant-General Sir John Monash

Official war artist James Quinn was instructed to paint the portrait of Lieutenant-General Sir John Monash, as part of an ongoing series of portraits that acknowledged senior military leaders in the Australian Imperial Forces. John Monash is considered one of the war’s outstanding commanders....

ART03350

Brigadier General Thomas Dodds

Official war artist James Quinn was instructed to paint the portrait of Brigadier General Thomas Henry Dodds CMG CVO DSO, as part of an ongoing series of portraits that acknowledged senior military leaders in the Australian Imperial Forces. Prior to the First World War, Dodds served with the...

ART03344

Clery

Four mules and a cart rest on the top of a grassy hillside. The artist depicts the Australian Infantry on the frontline at Clery-sur-Somme near Peronne in August 1918.

ART19884.006

Not titled [dancer]

A pencil sketch of a woman in a ball dress by an unknown artist.

ART19884.008

Not titled [Headquarters, Glisy]

A garden containing buildings that the Australian contingent in Glisy are using as Headquarters. In the background and cathedral spire visible in the centre of the town.

ART19884.004

Not titled

Elevated view of the town square and cathedral at Glisy, France.

ART19884.001

Troops moving to the front

Depicts the movement of troops along the winding road through the French countryside near Peronne.

ART19884.007

Not titled [Glisy]

Street scene on the outskirts of Glisy, showing a row of houses facing an undeveloped area of trees and greenery. A cathedral is visible in the distance.

ART19884.003

Not titled [Street scene]

Two indistinct figures walk down a street lined with single storey buildings.

ART19884.002

Brigadier General Clement Smith

James Quinn, former official war artist, was commissioned to paint the portrait of Brigadier General Clement Leslie Smith VC MC. This continued on from a series of portraits in 1918 and 1919 that acknowledged senior military leaders who had served with, or alongside the Australian Imperial Forces...

ART03353

Not titled [Glisy street scene]

A street scene in Glisy containing two figures to the right and a line of houses to the right and the shadows of buildings to the left are outlined on the street.

ART19884.005

Major General Sir Harold Walker

Official war artist James Quinn was instructed to paint the portrait of Major General Sir Harold Walker as part of an ongoing series of portraits that acknowledged senior military leaders in the Australian Imperial Forces. Harold Bridgwood Walker was born the son of a country clergyman on 26 April...

ART03349

General Sir William Birdwood

Major General Sir (later Field Marshal Lord) William Riddell Birdwood (of ANZAC, Bt) GCB, GCMG, CIE, DSO, was selected from the Indian Army 1914 to command the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. He supervised the Corps during its training in Egypt and led it during the Gallipoli campaign in...

ART03339

Brigadier-General James Heane

Official war artist James Quinn was instructed to paint the portrait of Brigadier-General James Heane CB(M) CMG DSO as part of an ongoing series of portraits that acknowledged senior military leaders in the Australian Imperial Forces. Prior to the First World War, James Heane was a member of the...

ART03345

Major General Sir Joseph Hobbs

Official war artist James Quinn was instructed to paint the portrait of Major General Sir Joseph Hobbs as part of an ongoing series of portraits that acknowledged senior military leaders in the Australian Imperial Forces. Throughout his life, Major General Sir Joseph Hobbs KCMG KCB(M) CB(M)...

ART03348

Major General Sir Cyril Brudenell White

Official war artist James Quinn was instructed to paint the portrait of Major General Sir Cyril Brudenell White, as part of an ongoing series of portraits that acknowledged senior military leaders in the Australian Imperial Forces. White was one of the founders of the AIF and rose to become Chief...

ART03347

Major General Sir John Gellibrand

Official war artist James Quinn was instructed to paint the portrait of Major General (later Sir) John Gellibrand, CB(M) (later KCB), DSO and Bar as part of an ongoing series of portraits that acknowledged senior military leaders in the Australian Imperial Forces. Australian born, Gellibrand...

ART03346

Major General Sir Neville Howse VC

Official war artist James Quinn was instructed to paint the portrait of Major General Sir Neville Howse VC, as part of an ongoing series of portraits that acknowledged senior military leaders in the Australian Imperial Forces. Neville Howse was born on 26 October 1863 at Stogursey, Somerset, in...

ART03351

Lieutenant General Sir Harry Chauvel

James Quinn, official war artist, was commissioned to paint the portrait of Lieutenant General Sir Henry George 'Harry' Chauvel, GCMG, KCB in 1919. Chauvel had a solid military career prior to the First World War. At the time of the Boer War, Chauvel was a captain in the Queensland permanent...

ART03340

Brigadier General Gordon Bennett

Official war artist James Quinn was instructed to paint the portrait of Brigadier General Henry Gordon Bennett, CB, CMG, DSO, who was mentioned in despatches eight times. A member of the Citizen Military Forces, Bennett had the rank of Major at the onset of the First World War. Volunteering with...

ART03343

Rear Admiral John Glossop

Official war artist James Quinn was instructed to paint the portrait of Rear Admiral John Glossop as part of an ongoing series of portraits that acknowledged senior military leaders in the Australian Imperial Forces. John Glossop was a naval officer who commanded HMAS Sydney for much of the First...

ART03352

Timeline

Date of birth 1869-12-04
Date of death 1951-02-18