James Douglas


1858 - 1911


James Douglas

Watercolour Painter


James Douglas born in Dundee on April 28, 1858, was the second youngest of seven children.  His father was an upholsterer and musician.

James claimed to be a self-taught artist, exhibiting for the first time at the age of 16 in Dundee in 1874.  This exhibit was one of his drawings.

He exhibited three watercolours of at the inaugural Dundee Fine Arts Exhibition of 1877, and a watercolour, an oil, and a pen & ink at the Dundee Fine Art Exhibition of 1879.


James Douglas later maintained studios in Edinburgh for many years, first renting the large studio recently vacated by Noel Paton around 1880.  He spent a year studying in Paris, 1883-4, and then returned to Edinburgh.

 He moved to the English Lake District following his marriage in 1891, then to Bavaria in 1895, before returning to Edinburgh in 1898.


He was elected Member of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolours (RSW) in 1900.  He signed his subsequent paintings 'J Douglas RSW' rather than dating them. 

However, by 1907 he was suffering from mental illness and was struck off for non-payment of his subscription.  He died on July 18, 1911.


James Douglas


James Douglas' preference was for landscape painting in the countryside.  His known paintings of Edinburgh are largely confined to those which were reproduced as postcards for WR&S and Cynicus."

Well over 100 of Douglas' paintings were  produced as postcards by the publishers:

-   William Ritchie & Sons (WR&S), Edinburgh, and

-   Cynicus Publishing Co, Tayport, Fife.

Cynicus Postcard

St Andrews

   Postcard published by Cynicus, Tayport, Fife  -  Painting of St Andrews by J Douglas

The postcard subjects were usually landscapes.  They included:

-  Edinburgh  (12 cards)

-  Scotland (excluding Edinburgh) -  those parts attractive to the Edwardian tourist  (over 100 cards)

-  English Lake District, home to the artist, 1891-95  (13 cards)

-  Bavarian townscapes of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, home to the artist, 1895-97.   (6 cards)"


James Douglas

Paintings & Exhibitions

Early Exhibitions

An exhibition of James Douglas' work was held at the Perth Museum & Art Gallery, Scotland in May 2002.  It featured  60 of his watercolour paintings, also postcards, photographs and other ephemera.

The catalogue for this exhibition, prepared by James W Barnes, includes a list of over 250 paintings exhibited by James Douglas between 1877 and 1912.

Douglas exhibited his work at exhibitions in London, Paris, Vienna, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee.  These exhibitions included:


1894, 95, 1901, 02 Royal Academy
1881, 82, 83, 84,85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 97, 98, 99, 1900, 06,07 Royal Scottish Academy
1886, 1906 Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour
1877, 79, 80, 82, 83, 84, 86, 89, 90, 91, 95 Dundee Fine Art Exhibition

James Douglas' best known painting was probably his large-scale watercolour  "Dundee 1888" .  It  was hung in the Victoria Galleries, Dundee, a new gallery built to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.  Photogravure prints of the painting were produced for sale in 1889.

Early Exhibitions

There were to be no further exhibitions of James Douglas's work until that held in the Perth Museum and Art Gallery in 2002.

This was followed by an exhibition featuring 30 of his  German pictures, held in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria in December 2003.


James Douglas


Most of James Douglas' paintings were submitted to exhibitions from the following addresses, mainly in Edinburgh:

Studio Addresses

1881 117 George Street, Edinburgh
1883 12 Queen Street, Edinburgh
1884 Albert Gallery, Edinburgh
1885-91 57 York Place, Edinburgh
1891-95 The Ghyll, Applethwaite, Keswick
1895-97 Rothenburg ob der Tauber
1897 18 Tantallon Place, Edinburgh
1898-1900 130 George Street, Edinburgh
1900-03 London and Surrey
from 1903 Tayport, Fife



James Douglas

Edinburgh Postcards

These are the Edinburgh paintings of James Douglas that have been reproduced as postcards: 

Postcards published by

W R & S

Postcard by W R & S  - Edinburgh from the Crags  -  Watercolour by James Douglas        Postcard by W &S  -  Calton Hill  -  posted 1904

-  Edinburgh from the Crags  (see illustration 1 above)

Calton Hill  (see illustration 2 above)

-  Edinburgh Castle

-  Edinburgh Castle from Greyfriars

-  Edinburgh Castle and City Wall

Queen Mary's Bedchamber Holyrood Palace

Postcards published by

Cynicus Publishing Co

-  Scott's monument and Castle from Princes Street

-  The Fountain Princes Street Gardens

-  Knox's House

Holyrood Palace and King's Park from Calton Hill

-  The Tollbooth, Canongate

Queen Mary's Bedchamber Holyrood Palace

-  Charlotte Square



Thank you to Jim Barnes, Angus, Scotland,  for providing almost all of the information on this page.

James Barnes has been researching the life and work of James Douglas for over 20 years.  He wrote the catalogue produced for the James Douglas Exhibition held in the Perth Museum & Art Gallery in 2002,

-  Peter Stubbs:   September 16-26, 2006.