Artist: James Faed (Snr)

Date of Birth:
Date of Death:
Place of Death:
Residence in Dumfries & Galloway:

Owned Craigenveoch Estate, Glenluce in the 1870s.

Exhibited At:

Royal Scottish Academy; Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts; Aberdeen Artists’ Society.


John Bonnar


The Faeds, Mary McKerrow, Edinburgh, 1982.


Kirkcudbright: one hundred years of an artists’ colony, Patrick Bourne, Atelier Books, Edinburgh, 2000.


Rambles in Galloway, Malcolm McLachlan Harper.


Image of the artist, painting of James Faed by Thomas Faed at Stranraer Museum.


Painted watercolours of Scottish coast and landscapes but best known as an engraver of works by his brothers and other artists.  Did a number of illustrations for Harper’s Rambles in Galloway: Routing Brig’, Old Place of Mochrum, Glenluce Abbey, Portpatrick in a Storm.  Stewartry Museum has his Portrait of Tom.  His Harvest at Kirkclaugh is illustrated in Bourne p18 and his Ravenshall p20.  His News Vendor is in the Dick Institute, Kilmarnock.  Scottish National Portrait Gallery lists paintings of his mother, sister, Susan and brother Thomas.

At the time of his death on 23 September 1911, James Faed was the last survivor of a famous family of artists.  He was born at Barlay Mill, Gatehouse in 1821.

His elder brother was John Faed RSA and a younger brother was Thomas Faed RA HRSA.  The brothers grew up in Gatehouse, where James helped his miller father.  John Faed was a miniature portrait artist from an early age, moving to Edinburgh in 1840.  Tom joined him in 1843 and James a year later, where they both assisted their elder brother.  However, they all soon branched out into their own careers, John and Tom becoming successful genre painters.

James Faed started to experiment with the mezzotint process, having been inspired by an engraving, by Samuel Cousins, of Prince Metternich by Thomas Lawrence.  One of James’ first works was produced on a complicated machine that he invented.  His first large work was after a group portrait by his brother Thomas of Walter Scott and His Literary Friends, followed by another group of poets and friends of Shakespeare at the Mermaid Tavern after John Faed.  James’ early works also included portraits of figures of the Disruption in the Church.

As well as Shakespeare, his work included figures from literature such as Milton and Scott, whilst Tom Faed’s Evangeline was a subject from Longfellow’s epic poem.  Faed’s output from historical or biblical works was limited, although one of his early plates entitled Entombment was engraved from a painting by Annibale Caracci.

From 1848 – 1898, James Faed engraved over 140 plates for leading Victorian artists such as Sir John Watson Gordon PRSA, John Graham Gilbert, Sir Daniel Macnee PRSA, Norman Macbeth, Sir J Noel Paton, Franz Winterhalter and Sir George Reid PRSA.

His greatest patron was Sir Francis Grant PRA, for whom he undertook 39 individual plates, mostly portraits.  They included threee Prime Ministers, Duke of Wellington, Duke of Portland, Lords Macaulay and Hardinge, Dr Longley (Archbishop of Canterbury) and Sir Peter Laurie (Lord Mayor of London).

As well as Scottish aristocracy, his commissions included sitters from the medical, religious and scientific world as well as landed gentry, many of whom were connected with hunting.  The Duke of Buccleuch, his son Lord Dalkeith, The Earl of Galloway, Sir Andrew Agnew of Lochnaw and Wellwood Herries Maxwell of Munches were all subjects of Faed’s plates.

James Faed died in Edinburgh aged 90.  He was married to Mary Cotton who bore him eight children, including the artists James Faed Junior and William Cotton Faed.

The above entry was written by the artist’s descendant Stuart Faed.  He is very interested in hearing of other works by James Faed.