Sir Herbert James Gunn RA British, 1893-1964

Scottish landscape painter and distinguished portraitist

Sir Herbert James Gunn (also known as Sir James Gunn) was a Scottish landscape artist and distinguished portraitist born in 1893. He began his training at the Glasgow School of Art and later the Edinburgh College of Art. In 1911, he continued his studies at Académie Julian in Paris under Jean-Paul Laurens. After he left Paris, he travelled to Spain and then spent time in London, where he mostly painted landscapes.


When the War ended, Gunn settled in London and established himself as an eminent and sought after portraitist. Gunn exhibited at the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, the Royal Scottish Academy, the Grosvenor Gallery and the Royal Academy, London. He won a gold medal at the Paris Salon in 1939 and was was elected President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 1953, a post he held until his death. That same year he was elected an Associate member of the Royal Academy and elected a full academician in 1961. Gunn was awarded a Knighthood for services to the arts in 1963.


Gunn's paintings are on show in a number of galleries and there are eleven portraits by the artist in the National Portrait Gallery, London, including his Conversation Piece at the Royal Lodge, Windsor, 1950. His commission for the State Portrait of H. M. Queen Elizabeth in 1953 is in the Royal Collection.