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


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...


Major General Sir Harold Walker

Major (later Lieutenant) General Sir Harold Bridgwood Walker, KCB, DSO, General Commanding 1 Div AIF; Western Front, previously also in (Boer) War British Regular Army, 1st Infantry Brigade, 1st Australian Division;


Major Thomas Grice

26 Foot Regiment (Cameronians); Major Thomas G Grice, an Australian with a permanent commission in British Army, wearing field uniform of Scottish Rifles, killed near Albert in 1916.


Lieutenant-General Sir John Monash

Portrait of Lieutenant General Sir John Monash, GCMG, KCB, Commanding Aust Corps; Western Front, Battle of, 1st Australian Imperial Force, 3rd Australian Division, Australian Corps;


[Glisy cathedral]

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


Troops moving to the front

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



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.


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...


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.


Not titled [dancer]

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


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.



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.


[Street scene]

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


Brigadier General Gordon Bennett

Portrait of Brigadier General Henry Gordon Bennett, CB, CMG, DSO, MID (x8), Commanding Officer 3 Brigade AIF. Bennett served with the 1st Australian Imperial Force at Gallipoli; 6th Battalion, 3rd Infantry Brigade, on the Somme, Ypres, Western Front, and later with the 2 AIF, 8th Division in...


Major General Sir Cyril Brudenell White

White was born at St Arnaud, Victoria, in 1876, but spent his early life in Queensland. He joined the Militia in 1896 and in 1899 successfully sat an examination to join the permanent forces, becoming a Lieutenant in the Queensland Regiment of Royal Australian Artillery. He served with the 1st...


Major General Sir Neville Howse, VC

Major General Sir Neville Reginald Howse, VC, KCB, (later also KCMG), was a medical officer with the New South Wales Army Medical Corps in South Africa, Howse gained the First Victoria Cross awarded to Australian Forces. In 1914 he served with the Australian Naval and Military Expedition which...


Major General Sir Joseph Hobbs

Major General Sir Joseph Talbot Hobbs, KCB (later also KCMG), MID (x7), General Commanding Australian Corps, Western Front 1st Australian Imperial Force, 1st Australian Division Artillery, 5th Australian Division, Australian Army Corps.


Major General Thomas William Glasgow

Portrait of Major General (later Sir) Thomas William Glasgow, (KGB), CMG, DSO, Commanding 1 Div AIF; Western Front, also in (Boer) War, 1st Australian Imperial Force, 2nd Australian Light Horse Regiment, 13th Infantry Brigade, 4th Australian Division, 1st Australian Division.


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 let it during the Gallipoli campaign in...


Major General Sir John Gellibrand

Major General (later Sir) John Gellibrand, CB (later KCB), DSO and Bar, General Commanding 3 Division Australian Imperial ForceI, Western Front, also in (Boer) War 1st Australian Imperial Force, 1st Australian Division, 6th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Australian Division. The leadership of Gellibrand,...


Brigadier-General James Heane

Brigadier General James Heane, CB, CMG, DSO, MID (x6), General Heane commanded the 2nd Brigade Australian Imperial Force during all its campaigns on the Western Front, from 1916 to the end of the war. He served at Gallipoli with the 4th Battalion and commanded the 1st Battalion during its first...


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...


Brigadier General Thomas Dodds

Brigadier General Thomas Henry Dodds, CMG, CVO, DSO, Deputy Adjutant General in France to AIF, in Charge AIF Administration; France and, also n (Boer) War


Brigadier General Clement Smith

Brigadier General Clement Leslie Smith, VC, MC, Commanding 29th Infantry Brigade, EEF, (earlier Commanding 1st ICC Bde, EEF; - campaign British Army, Australian Expeditionary Force.


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 let it during the Gallipoli campaign in...


Lieutenant General Sir Harry Chauvel

Lieutenant General Sir Henry George 'Harry' Chauvel, GCMG, KCB, Chauvel served on Gallipoli as commander of the 1st Light Horse Brigade and took command of a sector that included Quinn's Post, Courtney's Post, and Steele's Post, each the scene of heavy fighting. Commanding Desert Mounted Corps and...


Rear Admiral John Glossop

Commodore (later Vice Admiral) John Collings Taswell Glossop, CB, RN was the Captain of the HMAS Sydney when it destroyed SMS Emden in the first naval action involving an Australian warship in 1914. In 1916 he became Superintendent of Naval Establishments in Sydney, rising to the rank of...



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