James Duncan was born in Corelaine in the County of Londonderry in Ireland in 1806. He arrived in Canada around 1825 and settled in Montreal by 1830. He taught drawing at the Montreal High School, McGill Normal School, British and Canadian School, Young Ladies Academies of Misses Turner and MacIntosh and the MacKay Institute in Montreal in the 1850s-1860s. He illustrated the Hochelaga Depictata in 1839 and contributed occasionally to the Illustrated London News in the 1850s. He also collaborated with Cornelius Krieghoff in painting a series of panoramas of Canada around 1850.
Duncan travelled to Niagara and London in Canada West, England and Scotland in 1879-1880. He died in Montreal in 1881.
SUBJECT / THEMES
He is known for his landscapes of Montreal and its environs. He published lithographic views of Montreal and Quebec. He also painted some portraits and miniatures around 1842.
Duncan was a painter, watercolourist, lithographer, draughtsman and an illustrator.
Duncan was a founder-member of the Montreal Society of Artists in 1847, a founder-member of the Society of Canadian artists in Montreal in 1867. He was also an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1880.
Source: Catalogue of the National Gallery of Canada, Canadian Art, Volume one, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1988; R. H. Hubbard et J. R. Ostiguy, Trois cents ans d’art canadien, Musée des beaux-arts du Canada, Ottawa, 1967