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Art in Scotland
James W, Giles

Born, 1801; died, 6th October 1870.

One of the minor artists of Scotland was James Giles, the son of an Aberdonian, and born in Glasgow. In his youth he resided for some time in Italy, and on returning, settled in Edinburgh, where he became a member of the Royal Institution, which he quitted along with the other artists who joined the Academy in 1830, ranking then as an Academician. He painted a great variety of subjects with considerable ability, both in oil and water-colour, in connection with which his name appears regularly in the Scottish Academy catalogues attached to numerous works. Being a keen angler and fond of sport, he was particularly happy in rendering the sheeny glimmer and scaly surface of the watery tribe—the result of a day's good fishing, or other kindred subjects, by which he is most favourably known. His picture of Red Deer reposing, in the Royal Scottish Academy's exhibition of 1854, was favourably commented upon; and so early as 1830, at the Royal Academy in London, he was represented by the Errand-Boy, the Brig of Balgownie, and a composition from scenery near Rome: these were sent from Aberdeen; and in the following year, when he seems to have been living in London, to the same exhibition he contributed St Oswald's Well.

He occasionally resided at Aberdeen, and at other times in Edinburgh, but spent the last years of his life in the northern city, where, besides practising his art, he also taught drawing and painting, and died there in his sixty-ninth year. The Scottish National Gallery contains his picture of the Weird Wife; and a fair portrait of Bailie Fraser, Shoemaker, hangs in the Trinity Hall of Aberdeen. He drew and painted tolerably well, but cannot be said to have ever shown any appreciation of the higher qualities of art, and was a fairly good colourist in such subjects as game and fish.

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