James Aumonier, RI ROI NEI (1832-1911)
A landscape painter, born in Camberwell on 9 April 1832, he was son of Henry Collingwood Aumonier, a jeweller, by his wife, Nancy Frances, daughter of George Stacy. The family was of French descent. A younger brother did excellent work as an engraver, and a nephew, Stacy Aumonier, became a landscape painter and decorative designer.
James's childhood was spent at Highgate and High Barnet, and at fourteen he was placed in a business, which was little to his taste.
For some time he attended the evening classes, first at the Birkbeck Institution, then known as the Mechanics' Institute, and subsequently at South Kensington, where he worked with such application that he soon found employment as a designer of calicoes in a London firm. Meanwhile he used all his spare time to practise landscape painting out of doors, working in the early morning hours in the cloisters of Westminster and in Kensington Gardens, and later in Epping Forest.
He exhibited for the first time at the Royal Academy in 1871, but continued his work in the factory until after 1873, when Sir Newton Mappin purchased a picture shown by Aumonier at the Royal Academy, ' An English Cottage; Home.' The title is typical of the class of subject that appealed most forcibly to Aumonier.
He devoted himself almost exclusively to the painting of the peaceful English countryside, and showed a special affinity for the warm golden tints of autumn and of the late afternoon. A true lover of nature, he took her facts as he found them, without imposing upon her his own ideal as of pictorial fitness.
Aumonier never left England until 1891, when he visited Venice and the Venetian Alps, but he always preferred to find his subjects in his own country.
He became associate of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water-colours in 1876, and was one of the original members of the Institute of Oil Painters.
In 1889 he was awarded a gold medal for watercolour in Paris, and a bronze medal for oil painting at Adelaide. He also received a silver medal at the Brussels exhibition in 1897.
An exhibition of his watercolour drawings was held at the Leicester Galleries in 1908, and another of his work in oils as well at the Goupil Gallery in March 1912. Among his best pictures are ' When the Tide is Out,' 'The Silver Lining of the Cloud ' (both in the Royal Academy of 1895), 'In the Fen Country,' 'The Old Sussex Farmstead,' ' Sunday Evening,' and, above all, ' Sheep Washing,' now in the Chantrey bequest collection at the Tate Gallery, which also owns his ' Black Mountains.' He is represented, too, in the municipal galleries of Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Oldham, Adelaide, and Perth (Western Australia).
Aumonier died in London on 4 Oct. 1911, and his remains were cremated at Woking. He married in 1863 Amelia Wright, and had two sons and two daughters. A sketch portrait in oils by James Charles was executed in 1900 (DNB)
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