The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Biography

James Orrock, 1829-1913

Nationality: Scottish
Date of Birth: 1829
Place of Birth: Edinburgh
Date of Death: 1913.05.10
Place of Death: London


James Orrock was a dentist, watercolourist and collector.


James Orrock trained and qualified as a dentist and eventually set up a practice in Nottingham. He later began to work at the Nottingham School of Design where he studied under numerous artists including James Ferguson, W. L. Leitch and John Burgess. He was a landscape painter and watercolourist, and is thought to have 'restored' and altered works by other painters in his collection.

By 1866 he had come to London and was made an associate of the Royal Institution in 1871 and a full member in 1875. During 1858 and 1882 he exhibited at the Royal Academy and elsewhere. His style was greatly influenced by David Cox, which can be seen in his approach and subject matter. He was a strong advocate of Turner and British art in general and he was a renowned collector of paintings and oriental ceramics; Period rooms in his house were open to the public and became a popular tourist attraction.

It is not certain if JW really knew him, though he must have known of him. He is possibly referred to in the correspondence in 1884, when Albert Ludovici notes that JW had "said about 'Orrock - dropping his own H" (#08078). However, this might be a joke about cockney pronunciation and refer to a servant in the Society of British Artists.


Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres Sculpteurs Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, 1956-61; Wood, Christopher, The Dictionary of Victorian Artists, the Antiques Collectors' Club, 1978; (accessed 2003); Morris, Edward, 'James Orrock: Dentist, Watercolourist, Collector, Forger, Nationalist and Pioneer of the Period Room display', Conference paper, Visual Culture and Taste in late Victorian and Edwardian Britain, University of Northumbria, Newcastle, July 2004.