SIR HERBERT JAMES GUNN RA PRP
Glasgow 1893 - 1964 London
Herbert James Gunn, later known as Sir James Gunn, achieved fame as a distinguished portraitist; he was also a talented painter of landscapes and seascapes. Born in Glasgow, the son of a prosperous draper, he began his training at the Glasgow School of Art and the Edinburgh College of Art. He then continued his studies in Paris at the Académie Julian under Jean-Paul Laurens. At the outbreak of the First World War, Gunn enlisted with the Artists’ Rifles and served with the 10th Battalion Scottish Rifles in 1917.
When the War ended, Gunn settled in London and established himself as an eminent and sought after portraitist. In January 1919, he married a widow, Gwendoline Charlotte Thorne, with whom he had three daughters. They divorced in 1927 and in 1929 Gunn married Pauline Miller, the model for some of his most famous portraits, with whom he had a son and daughter. He exhibited at the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, the Royal Scottish Academy, the Grosvenor Gallery and the Royal Academy, London. He won a gold medal at the Paris Salon in 1939 and was elected President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 1953. That same year he was elected an Associate member of the Royal Academy and made a full member in 1961. Gunn was awarded a Knighthood for services to the arts in 1963. A major retrospective of his work was held at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh in 1994.
There are eleven portraits by the artist in the National Portrait Gallery, London, including his Conversation Piece at the Royal Lodge, Windsor, 1950. His commission for the State Portrait of H. M. Queen Elizabeth in 1953 is in the Royal Collection. The work of Sir Herbert James Gunn is also represented in the collections of the Aberdeen City Council; University of Aberdeen; Queen’s University, Belfast; University of Birmingham; University of Bristol; Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bradford; The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; University of Cambridge; Dumfries Museum and Camera Obscura; The Stewartry Museum, Dumfries and Galloway; Clydebank Museum and Art Gallery, West Dunbartonshire; Dundee Art Galleries and Museums; University of Dundee; Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture, Edinburgh, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh Council; Essex County Council; the Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow, Glasgow Museums Resource Centre, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow; McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Inverclyde; Royal Court House, Jersey; King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum, Lancaster; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; the British Museum, Library and Museum of Freemasonry, Government Art Collection, Guardian News & Media Archive, Imperial War Museums, National Maritime Museum, Parliamentary Art Collection, RIBA, Royal Academy of Arts, Royal Holloway, Royal London Hospital Museum & Archive, Royal College of Physicians, Tate Britain, University of London, City of Westminster Archives Centre and the Fleming Collection, London; University of Manchester; National Trust; University of Oxford; Oxford Town Hall; Pewsey Heritage Centre; Plymouth Guildhall; Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston; Touchstones, Rochdale; Museums Sheffield; The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent; University of Strathclyde; Surrey County Hall; Ulster Museum, National Museums Northern Ireland and National Museum Wales.