James Humbert Craig (1877-1944)
Autumn, Cushendun, c. 1930s-40s
Oil on panel
24cm x 34cm
From the collection of the North Down Museum
James Humbert Craig was born in Belfast on 12th July 1877 but grew up in Ballyholme, County Down. His father, Alexander Craig, was a tea merchant and his Swiss mother, Marie Metzenen, came from a family with a painting tradition. He was educated privately.
From a young age, he had drawn and painted voraciously and although he spent some time in his father’s wholesale merchant tea business, he was determined to make a living as an artist. He attended Belfast College of Art but his time there was brief, and he was mostly self-taught. Devoting himself to painting landscapes, Craig moved to Tornamona Cottage, Cushendun, County Antrim, where he lived until his death in 1944.
In 1928 he was elected to the Royal Hibernian Academy, in the same year he exhibited along with Paul Henry at the Fine Arts Society in London. He illustrated Richard Hayward’s In Praise of Ulster in 1938. His work is held in many collections, including the National Gallery of Ireland and the Ulster Museum. A member of Ballyholme Yacht Club, he designed the club’s burgee (triangular sailing flag) which they still use to this day.
This work is one of more than a dozen paintings donated in 1953 by Craig’s widow, Mrs Annie Craig, to the Bangor Urban District Council, now Ards and North Down Borough Council. The paintings were bequeathed on the condition that the council set aside a suitable room to be known as Craig Room. The room, formerly the library of Bangor Castle, continues to be called the ‘Craig Room’ to this day. Mrs Craig chose paintings which she thought best represented her husband’s work, including this one which depicts a view of of Cushendun, Craig’s home and favourite place to paint.