James Dixon
Irish Primitive Landscape Painter of Tory Island. Biography, Paintings.

West End Village, Tory Island

For more about Naive or Outsider
art, see: Primitivism/Primitive Art.

James Dixon (1887-1970)

The Irish artist and primitive landscape painter James Dixon was born on Tory Island, County Donegal, and aside from the occasional visit to the mainland, remained on the island all his life. He devoted himself to fishing and small farming. He only started painting at the age of 72, after seeing a British painter - Derek Hill - at work on a landscape painting. Hill encouraged Dixon and provided him with oils and other art materials, although Dixon made his own paintbrushes from donkey's hair. In due course it was Hill who introduced Dixon's artworks to the art world, thus helping Dixon to become an important figure in the history of twentieth-century Irish painting. His painting is seen as an excellent example of Outsider art. See also: Art Brut (Raw Art).

Gut Fishing, Camus More, Tory Island

For a guide to scenic painters like
James Dixon, see:
Irish Landscape Artists.

For answers to popular queries,
see: Irish Art Questions.

Dixon's primitive paintings depicted a range of romantic unspoilt views of Tory Island. He used oils on paper and board, and his expressive brushwork and bold composition portrayed the raw everyday reality of life on the island. He also completed a number of drawings.

His story and creative talent is similar to that of the St. Ives School painter Alfred Wallis (1855-1942), who was "discovered" in Cornwall. Both men lived in remote, rugged areas, and both artists were celebrated for their portrayal of the sea and boats.

Dixon's paintings were exhibited at one-man shows at the New Gallery, Belfast (1966) and at the Dawson Gallery, Dublin (1968).

In 1999, the Irish Museum of Modern Art Dublin staged the comparative exhibition "Two Painters: Works by Alfred Wallis and James Dixon", as did the Tate Gallery, London, in the same year.

Today, Dixons works are represented in several public collections, including: the Arts Council of Ireland; OPW, Arts Council of Northern Ireland; Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin; and Ulster Museum, Belfast.

Most Expensive Work by James Dixon

The auction record for a work by the naif Irish painter James Dixon was set in 2001, when his Self-Portrait was sold at Christie's, in London, for £11,750.

See also: Plein-Air Painting in Ireland.

More Information About Visual Arts in Ireland

• For details of other primitive painters from Ireland, see: Irish Artists: Biographies.
• For more about Tory Island painters like James Dixon, see: Irish Art Guide.
• For more about primitivism in painting, see: Homepage.

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