James Collinson (9 May 1825 – 24
January 1881 London) was a Victorian painter who was a member of the
Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood from 1848 to 1850.
He was born at Mansfield, Nottinghamshire and was the son of a
bookseller. He entered the Royal Academy School, and was also a
fellow-student with Holman Hunt, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
Collinson was a devout Christian who
was attracted to the devotional and high church aspects of
Pre-Raphaelitism. A convert to Catholicism, Collinson reverted to
high Anglicanism in order to marry Christina Rossetti, but his
conscience forced his return to Catholicism and the break-up of the
engagement. When Millais' painting Christ in the House of his
Parents was accused of blasphemy, Collinson resigned from the
Brotherhood in the belief that it was bringing the Christian
religion into disrepute.
During his period as a
Pre-Raphaelite, Collinson contributed a long devotional poem to The
Germ and produced a number of religious works, most importantly The
Renunciation of St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1850). After his
resignation Collinson trained for the priesthood at a Jesuit
college, but did not complete his studies.
In 1858, he married Eliza Wheeler,
the sister in law of the painter John Rogers Herbert, one of the
early influences on the Pre-Raphaelites. Returning to his artistic
career he painted a number of secular genre paintings, the
best-known of which are To Let and For Sale, both of which
lightheartedly depict pretty women in situations that suggest moral
He was secretary of the Society of
British Artists from 1861 to 1870. In the latter part of his life he
lived in Brittany, where he painted The Holy Family (1878). He died
in April 1881.
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