James Bell was a shipowner.
He was Glasgow Councillor at the time of the purchase of JW's portrait Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137) in 1891. He was interested in art and was President of the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts.
He was Lord Provost of Glasgow from 1892-96 and became a baronet (Sir James Bell) in 1895.
Bell, Peter, Who was Who in Edwardian Scotland, Edinburgh, 1986; Who's Who in Glasgow, Glasgow, 1909.