Animal & Portrait Painter
James Howie was born in Brechin, Forfarshire in 1791.
[Obituary: The Scotsman: 29 Dec 1858]
He moved to Edinburgh, becoming an
animal and portrait painter
in 1823, based first at 8 North Bridge, then at
in Princes Street.
He exhibited around a dozen paintings at the Royal
Scottish Academy exhibitions between 1823 and 1834.
Here is one of his later paintings.
NOTE: Do not confuse this James Howie,
Animal and Portrait Painter and early photographer, with the more famous
Edinburgh Portrait, Animal
and Historical Painter, James Howe (1780-1836).
In fact, James Howe sometimes signed himself, James
Howe. [John Malden, The Paxton Trust, Berwick-upon-Tweed]
James Howe was born in Skirling,
Peeblesshire. He was apprenticed to the Norie family in Edinburgh. He
travelled to London in 1806 but failed to get royal patronage so returned to
Edinburgh where he worked for most of his career.
He painted animal subjects and also huge panoramas of
the Battle of Waterloo and Quatre Bras.
Notes on James Howe (above) are taken from
catalogues of City of Edinburgh Art Collection.
Neighbours in Princes
64, 65, 66
In the late 1830s, James Howie had
lived for several years at 64 Princes Street, an address that he shared
with a saddler, a watchmaker and a firm of hatters. At No 65 was a
surgeon dentist, a firm of dyers and the engraver Robert Scott.
Two doors to the west of Howie,
at No 66 lived a
bird-stuffer. He was a freed Guyanan slave (though
possibly African in origin) named John Edmonstone, who for an hour every
day for two months, for a charge of one guinea, showed Charles Darwin how
to skin and dry birds.
Please see here for further details of
[Ref: Charles Darwin Voyaging,
p.66 by Janet Browne: Acknowledgement:
In 1841, James Howie moved to No 68
Princes Street, an address that he shared with
a fishing tackle maker, stay maker, watchmaker, writing master and
dentist. He remained at this address for only about a year before
moving to 45 Princes Street where he opened his
Daguerreotype Exhibition -
In 1839, the same year as
Daguerre announced their
discoveries of photography, James Howie had begun to make daguerreotypes.
He placed an advertisement in The
Scotsman on 15 October 1839, announcing the opening of an
exhibition of his work at 64 Princes Street.
ADVERTISEMENT FOR 1839 EXHIBITION
Howie, artist, 64 Princes Street, begs leave respectfully to inform the
Nobility, Gentry and Public, that he has succeeded in producing some beautiful
specimens in the above
NEW ART on SILVER,
the first public
exhibition of its kind in Scotland
[The Scotsman: 15 October 1839]
Professional Photographer -
Princes Street Studio
James Howie was the first photographer to set up a studio in Princes Street.
The exact date that the studio was established is not clear.
Further Research Needed
The adverts on
the back of his cartes-de-visite originally said “Established 1839”
several years later, after producing about 30,000 portraits, he changed this to
read “Established 1840”.
This change seems to have occurred some time between negative 26311 and
negative 34158, but I don't know the dates of these two negatives.
suggests a date of 1841, but gives no source for this date.
Further research is needed.
would be interesting to find the exact date that Howie opened his first studio
in Princes Street and, in
particular, whether it could have been before spring 1841 – the date when
Gernsheim states that Europe’s first public portrait studio was on the rooftop
of the Royal Polytechnic Institution in London.
Rooftop Studio - 1845
in his view looking to the North, from the recently constructed Scott
Monument in 1845.
Howie's Rooftop Studio
45 Princes Street