James Edward Meadows was born in Mountnessing in Essex in 1826. His early years were spent with his family in Essex, Stepney and Clapham, and following his marriage to Eliza Rackliffe(a young widow and schoolteacher with a daughter) he initially settled with his family on London's South Bank at 4, Harleyford Road in Kennington. For the next ten years, James and his family moved home frequently, mainly in what is now West London (at Lansdown Villas in Hounslow in 1855; at 16, Malvern Villas in Hounslow, and at Acton Cottage on Acton Green in 1860; at Acton Green House from 1861-1863; and finally at Essex Villa in Avenue Road, Acton from 1863-c.1874), but also lived for a while at least at Wanjay House in Chadwell, Ilford, on the borders of Essex and London (1857). However even if James continued to visit his native Essex, it was in the West and not the East of London that the family finally settled from c.1874 until James'death in 1893, in an imposing house which is still standing and was even then grandly named Gainsborough House at 2, Aldine Street, on Shepherds Bush Green.
Image: Collecting firewood by James E.Meadows
'Collecting firewood', by James Edward Meadows.
(Reproduced by kind permission of Chris Hughes)
Like his youngest brother Arthur, James was a successful artist in his own lifetime. He exhibited his work at the Royal Academy (1854-1872), and the Royal Hibernian Academy of Art in Dublin (1860-1887), but also at the Royal Society of British Artists (1853-1875), the British Institute, the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, and the Manchester City Art Gallery. The following information is quoted from the websites cited: "Despite being based in London, James Edwin Meadows travelled extensively throughout Great Britain seeking inspiration for his landscapes, particularly concentrating on the Southern coastline. He frequently painted views in Essex, Kent, Sussex, Surrey and the Isle of Wight." (www.burlington.co.uk); "Meadow's paintings are often of beautiful sunlit views of the countryside in and around Kent, Surrey and Essex. His favorite motif was a group of figures on a country lane with a cottage in the distance. His idealized rustic settings are composed of natural tones and light touches of soft pastel colors." (www.rehsgalleries.com). James painted many views of his native Essex, including several of Sible Hedingham and Mountnessing. However despite being best known for his landscape compositions, James was also a talented marine artist, and shared his brothers' inspiration in Venice.
Image: 'Playing in a clearing' by James E.Meadows
'Playing in a forest clearing', by James Edward Meadows.
(Reproduced by kind permission of Chris Hughes)
James also followed another family tradition, at least on one occasion, as a scene painter for the theatre. The Charing Cross Theatre opened in June 1869, and the theatre diarist E.L.Blanchard (a friend of Drinkwater Meadwos), noted that, "The act-drop, representing the Mall in St James's Park in Charles II's time was painted by J.E Meadows." From 1879, this theatre became known as Toole's Theatre, and was managed by the actor-manager John Laurence Toole.
In the 1881 census James E.Meadows was recorded as a "professor of painting". Two extraodinary works perhaps illustrates his ability above and beyond the obvious beauty of his work. In 1886, he was asked to paint views of two new cities in Victoria, Australia. Meadows never visited Australia, and for both views he was required to work from detailed drawings, engravings, maps, plans, postcards and photographs, and to rely on his knowledge of architectural principals. Both paintings - of Sandhurst (now known as Bendigo), and Ballarat - were exhibted in the Victoria Pavilion of the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London's South Kensington.
Image: 'Wait a minute', by James E.Meadows, 1872
'Wait a minute', by James Edward Meadows, 1872.
(Reproduced from a private family collection, by kind permission of the owner).
This painting was exhibited at The Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin in 1872, and later at The Royal Academy in London. It was later given by James Edward to his sister Frances Amelia, who had two young girls at the time, and gave birth to two more in 1873 and 1876.
Catherine Meadows née Rackliffe, b.1845 - Catherine was the daughter of Eliza Meadows and her deceased first husband. Catherine married William Thompson (born c.1836 in Margate, died between 1885-1891), who in 1881 was a staff sergeant in the R.S.W.B.Militia, stationed with his family at the Barracks at Watton Brecon. William and his two sons only appear in the 1881 census. Subsequently Catherine returned with her surviving daughters to live with James E. Meadows in Shepherds Bush, before moving to Portsmouth. William and Catherine had 2 sons and 4 daughters: Henry Thompson born c.1878 in Hereford; Julia Alice Catherine Thompson born c.1879, William Thompson born in 1881, and Kate Thompson born c.1882, all in Brecon in South Wales; Anne Thompson born 1884 in Hereford; and Susan Kate Thompson born 1885 in Rotherhithe. James painted several landscapes in South Wales entitled "On the Usk, near Brecon" in 1879, at about the time that Julia was born; "The foot of the Beacon Hills, near Brecon" exhibited at the RA in 1882, the year that Kate Thompson was born; and also an undated work entitled "The old bridge and Weir Priory at Brecon, South Wales". James also painted a landscape "Near Hereford", exhibited at the RA in 1880.
Alice Meadows was born in 1851 in Kennington, and in the 1881 census she was recorded as single and living with her father.
Julia Ann Louisa Meadows was born in 1852 in Kennington, and died in 1927 in Portsmouth. Julia married Thomas Llewellyn Hughes(c.1859- 1895), a chemist originally from Llandovery in South Wales, at St Stephen's Church, Hammersmith in 1883. Julia and Thomas lived in Fulham and Hammersmith, and had four children: Julia, born 1885; Ada Anne, born 1887; Llewllyn Meadows Hughes, born 1890; and Victor, born in 1891. Julia's great-grandson, Chris Hughes, has made many contributions to this website and has generously shared family documents which have helped with the research behind this site. Chris has also been a great help in making connections between current descendants of James Meadows.
Walter William Meadows was born in Heston in 1856. He married in Fulham in 1895, and in the 1901 census he is recorded as an "artist painter" living at Trinity Cottage in Brick Kiln Road in Stevenage. Walter Meadows died in 1927.
Francis James Meadows was born in 1859 in Isleworth, and later became a dentist and settled in Ladbroke Grove in London. He married in 1882, and was the father of Francis Edward Meadows, born 1885; and of Sidney Clarence Meadows, born 1887, both in Kensington. Francis Meadows died in 1949.
There are numerous examples of James E.Meadows displayed on the web. The links below are just a few examples, and show not only his typical landscapes but also his Australian 'townscapes'
James E.Meadows view of Ballarat
James E.Meadows view of Bendigo
James E.Meadows on Artnet
The reference to James E.Meadows as a scene painter was kindly supplied by Mary Rogers, who has compiled a website with excerpts from Blanchard's diary. This website offers a wealth of detail concerning the 19th century, and most notably the theatre world. You can find the website on the link below.
James E.Meadows in E.L.Blanchard's diary
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