James Humbert Craig RHA RUA
James Humbert Craig (1877-1944) was a landscape painter born in Belfast. He enrolled at the Belfast School of Art but failed to finish even one term, therefore, he was largely a self-taught artist. His passion for the outdoors and landscape meant that the Glens of Antrim, Donegal and Connemara were his most popular areas for painting. At one stage he did emigrate to the US but only stayed for a short time before returning to Co. Down.
James’ works first appeared in the RHA in 1915 and he continued to contribute his art here until he died. In 1928, Humbert Craig was elected to the Royal Ulster Academy and the Royal Hibernian Academy. Additionally, he exhibited his work at the Fine Arts Society in London and was an academician of the Ulster Academy of Arts. Through his paintings we can see that he had a simple golden rule, which was to ‘never try to improve on nature’. In 1923, an article in ‘The Studio’ said, ‘In the North the best men are, almost without exception, engrossed in landscape. They form a very distinct group whose work is characterised by typical racial traits. Their landscapes, though by no means emotional, are always most obviously sincere, closely observed, firmly and cleanly handled….’. This is of course referring to Craig.
Craig worked right up to his death in 1944 and a memorial exhibition was held in the Belfast Museum and Art Gallery. His work continues to be widely reproduced through the likes of posters and calendars and he has many followers due to his style of capturing the subject.