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Orrock, James

James Orrock was born in Edinburgh on 18 October 1829, the son of a dentist. From an early age he was interested in art and at the age of eight he began to board at Irvine Royal Academy, Ayrshire, where he received his first formal drawing lessons from a Mr White ( and perhaps had his first views of Arran).

After school he attended Edinburgh University studying medicine and dentistry, but at the same time studied painting with James Ferguson.

In 1853, Orrock moved to Nottingham to establish a dental practice but continued to develop his artistic talent by taking lessons from Thomas Stuart Smith at the Nottingham Trent University, School of Art and Design and began to exhibit at the Royal Academy in 1858.

The wealth he had as a dentist enabled him to indulge a passion for collecting which resulted in a fine collection of English paintings, including Turner, blue and white porcelain and Chippendale and Adam furniture. In turn, this led him to becoming an art dealer, with many important clients including Lord Leverhulme.


Eventually, in 1866, Orrock moved to London to become a professional painter and in 1875 became a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours. He was also elected to the membership of the Royal Institute of Painters in Oils in 1883 and to the Royal Scottish Academy.

Orrock toured Scotland and produced several paintings of Arran including, Off the Coast of Arran and Sou Wester on Arran.

Another string to his bow was book illustrating, notably W S Crockett’s In the Border Country (1906) and two by W S Sparrow: Mary Queen of Scots (1906, with his friend, Sir James Linton) and Old England (1908).

He  died at Shepparton on Thames on 10 May 1913.

His work is represented in numerous public collections, including the V&A; and the Lady Lever Art Gallery (Port Sunlight).


Christopher Beetles, ‘Orrock, James (1829-1913)’

H C G Matthew and Brian Harrison (eds)The Dictionary of Scottish Painters: Paul Harris and Julian Halsby: Canongate 1990

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