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Pelham, James II

Date and place of birth:
1800, London
Date and place of death:
1874, Liverpool
(fl) Mid 19th century
Known places of work:
Known techniques:
Painted on glass
Known materials:


James Pelham II was a well-regarded painter, profilist, and miniaturist. He was born into an artistic family and worked across England and Scotland, before settling in Liverpool. Unfortunately only a few examples of his silhouette work have survived.

James Pelham II was the son of the miniaturist James Pelham. He was born in 1800 in London where he began his career as a portrait painter. He exhibited paintings at the Royal Academy from 1832 to 1837 and continued to exhibit until at least 1868. He married in 1838 and moved to Liverpool shortly afterwards. There he became an Associate of the Liverpool Academy in 1848 and was Secretary of the Academy for a time from 1854. Throughout his career Pelham worked in a variety of artistic styles. He painted miniatures, portraits in oil and water-colour and subject pictures. As a silhouette artist he appears to have worked primarily on glass. One trade label for his silhouette work exists. As well as advertising his ability, it states that Pelham was “miniature painter to HRH Princess Augusta” – an interesting claim not yet proven.

From the small number of examples available, James Pelham II appears to have been an accomplished silhouette artist. McKechnie suggests that Pelham worked in a very similar style to his contemporary Parkin. He used a number of typical techniques for artists working on glass, particularly a heavily fingerpainted base and thin wax backing. However, the hatching on one example is particularly fine and there is a noticeable lack of bustline termination. Given Pelham’s long career as an artist, it should perhaps be expected that more examples of his work will be discovered.

Additional research about James II Pelham:

Source: McKechnie (Author of, British Silhouette Artists and their Work 1760-1860)

Pelham, James II (McKechnie Section 3)
Pelham, James II (McKechnie Section 4)