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James Hamilton was an American painter of Irish birth. He emigrated to the USA and at the age of 15 arrived in Philadelphia, where he was encouraged to study art by the engraver John Sartain (1808–97). Hamilton had drawing lessons with local teachers and studied from English artists’ manuals including that on oil painting by Samuel Prout; he was also influenced by the English watercolor technique of broad transparent washes. With these stylistic interests and his innate sensitivity to nature, Hamilton evolved a style that tended towards Romantic Impressionism, and he became known as ‘the American Turner’.

4 in x 6 in