Artist biography

Welsh painter. He studied first at Carmarthen Art School, and then at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, from 1906 to 1908, where he met Derwent Lees (1885–1931). Innes made several trips abroad in order to paint, most importantly to Collioure, France, in 1908, and again in 1911. He is, however, best known for his paintings of Wales. In 1907 he had begun a friendship with Augustus John, whose fascination with gypsies had drawn him to Wales and to a nomadic life. With John and Lees, Innes wandered over a remote and unfashionable part of North Wales in pursuit of a romantic freedom; Innes slept out of doors despite the fact that he had been diagnosed as a consumptive.

In works in an essentially Post-Impressionist style such as Portrait of a Gypsy (c. 1912; Aberdeen, A.G.) Innes developed a poetic intensity comparable to that found in Samuel Palmer's work. Using a notational method and painting for the most part on a small scale, as in Bala Lake (c. 1911; Manchester, C.A.G.), he developed a style notable for its lucidity and immediacy of touch. He is most often associated with the mountain he painted repeatedly, Arenig (c. 1911–13; Cambridge, Fitzwilliam), on the top of which he buried a casket of love letters from Euphemia Lamb. He painted at speed, using chopped brushstrokes to render foliage, clouds or light reflections on water. His career was cut short by his tuberculosis.

James Dickson Innes (exh. cat., intro. J. Hoole; Southampton, C.A.G.; Cardiff, N. Mus.; London, F.A. Soc.; Manchester, C.A.G.; 1978)
Some Miraculous Promised Land: J. D. Innes, Augustus John and Derwent Lees in North Wales, 1910–12 (exh. cat., Llandudno, Mostyn A.G., 1982)
J. D. Innes, 1887–1914 (exh. cat., essay by C. Hampton; Llanelli, Pub. Lib., Nevill Mem. Gal., 1987)


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