James Hamilton is a curator, writer and lecturer, who entered the University of Manchester 1966 to read Mechanical Engineering, and emerged in 1971 with a degree in History of Art.
This radical change in direction has, nearly fifty years later, distilled itself into a cycle of books which look from a variety of angles at the society of art and science in London in the first half of the nineteenth century.
As a curator James Hamilton has organised dozens of art exhibitions since the 1970s, as part of the daily programmes of art galleries at the time. Central among these were Wilhelm Lehmbruck (Portsmouth City Museum, 1974), Arthur Rackham (Sheffield, Bristol and the V&A, 1979-80), Edmund Dulac (1982-83, Sheffield, Bristol and the Geffrye Museum, London), The Danish Show – Contemporary Paintings (Bradford, Coventry, Hull and Newcastle, 1986-87), New Art in Yorkshire (Leeds, 1987), Turner’s Britain (Birmingham, 2003), Turner and Italy (Ferrara, Edinburgh and Budapest), Volcano – from Turner to Warhol (Compton Verney, 2010) and Making Painting – Helen Frankenthaler and J M W Turner (Margate, 2014). Please go to Exhibitions for more details. He has written widely on nineteenth and twentieth century art, and has contributed book and exhibition reviews to the Spectator, the Independent, The Times and the Financial Times. His writing on painting and printmaking explores in particular artists whose work crosses the boundaries which tend to separate art, literature and science.
He was University Curator and Honorary Reader at the University of Birmingham from 1992 until retirement in 2013, and is currently a Fellow of the Barber Institute at the University of Birmingham. He was Alistair Horne Fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford, 1998/99.
He has lectured across the United Kingdom and in Italy, Hungary, Poland and the USA on Gainsborough, Turner, Faraday, and the culture of eighteenth and nineteenth century Britain, and has contributed to programmes on BBC Radio 3 and 4 and BBC1 television on the art of J M W Turner.