Joseph Noel Paton

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Joseph Noel Paton

painter, sculptor, illustrator and collector

Born 12/13/1821 - Died 12/26/1901

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PATON, SIR JOSEPH NOEL (1821-1901), British painter, was born, on the 13th of December 1821, in Woolers Alley, Dunfermline, where his father, a fellow of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries, carried on the trade of a damask manufacturer. He showed strong artistic inclinations in early childhood, but had no regular art training, except a brief period of study in the Royal Academy School in 1843. He gained a prize of 200 in the first Westminster Hall competition, in 1845, for his cartoon The Spirit of Religion, and in the following year he exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy his Quarrel of Oberon and Titania. A companion fairy picture, The Reconciliation of Oberon and Titania went to Westminster Hall in 1847, and for it and his picture of Christ bearing the Cross he was awarded a prize of 300 by the Fine Arts Commissioners. The two Oberon pictures are in the National Gallery of Scotland, where they have long been a centre of attraction. His first exhibited picture, Ruth Gleaning, appeared at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1844. He began to contribute to the Royal Academy of London in 1856. Throughout his career his preference was for allegorical, fairy and religious subjects. Among his most famous pictures are The Pursuit of Pleasure (1855), Mors Janua Vitae (1866), Oskold and the Ell-maids (1874), and In Die Malo (1882). Sir Noel Paton also produced a certain amount of sculpture, more notable for design than for searching execution. He was elected an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1847, and a full member in 1850; he was appointed Queen's Limner for Scotland in 1866, and received knighthood in 1867. In 1878 the University of Edinburgh conferred upon him the degree of LL.D. He was a poet of distinct merit, as his Poems by a Painter (1861) and Spindrift (1867) pleasantly exemplified. He was also well known as an antiquary, his hobby, indeed, being the collection of arms and armour. Sir Noel died in Edinburgh on the 26th of December 1901. His eldest son, Diarmid Noel Paton (b. 1859), became regius professor of physiology in Glasgow in 1906; and another son, Frederick Noel Paton (b. 1861), became in 1905 director of commercial intelligence to the government of India.

Source: Entry on the artist in the 1911 Edition Encyclopedia.


father of

  • Paton, Frederick Noel (1861-1914)

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33 Montpelier Square
Sunday Morning

Yours of the 12th enclosing notice of my name for your new edition of Men of the Times, has just reached me here.
I return proof with gaps filled in, and two slight alterations suggested. It is scarcely for me to propose any extension of the list of works already given, but the certain popularity of the two pictures that followed the "Funeral of Oberon", warrants me in suggesting that they should be mentioned. They were both exhibited in Ediburgh: one, "Dante Meditating the episode of Francesca da Rimini" in 1852. The other, know as "The Dead Lady> " in 1854 - both are now the property of English collectors. In the Exhibition of the Royal Scottishe Academy now open, there is a large and complicated allegorical picture of mine, called the "Pursuit of Pleasure" which has thrown the civilized world of the north into great commotion. It is for the others to say whether it has been a success - but on the opening day it was so crowded about that a railing had to be put round it. And up the present time the crowding continues.
In haste I remain

J. Noel Paton

Image courtesy of Don Kurtz

Pg 2 of 2

Image courtesy of Don Kurtz

Image courtesy of Don Kurtz

Image courtesy of Don Kurtz