James Paterson was a landscape and portrait painter and watercolourist. He was the son of a cloth manufacturer. He married in 1884.
Paterson worked as a clerk for four years before he turned to painting. He studied in Glasgow and in Paris under Jacquesson de la Chevreuse and J. P. Laurens. He became a leading member of the Glasgow School, together with his friend and sketching companion W. Y. Macgregor.
Paterson specialised in pastoral landscapes influenced by Corot and the Barbizon School, e.g. Windy Trees and The Old Mill, both of which were exhibited at the Royal Academy. From 1879 onwards he was active exhibiting at not only the Royal Academy, but at venues such as the Royal Scottish Academy, Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours, Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Water Colours, Fine Art Society, Society of British Artists, (a society that appointed JW its President in 1886), Grosvenor Gallery, New English Art Club and the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers (a society that formed in 1898 with JW as its President).
In 1885 Paterson was elected to the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Water Colours. He eventually became its President in 1923. In 1887 he joined the New English Art Club, a group with which JW exhibited at their first show in 1888. He was elected an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1896, becoming a full member in 1910. In 1898 he became an associate of the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours. He joined its membership in 1908.
In 1889 Paterson was among those included in the preliminary preparations for a meal to be held at the Criterion on 1 May in celebration of JW's honorary membership of the Royal Academy in Munich (#00631). He was among those Glasgow painters who in 1891 appended their names to a list requesting that the Corporation of Glasgow buy Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137) (#12326). In 1892 JW was approached by Mary Newton Mann about contributing a sketch to an album of watercolours and black and white drawings in order to raise 400 guineas for Queen Margaret College in Glasgow. Paterson was among those who had already promised his assistance (#03987).
Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; Wood, Christopher, Dictionary of Victorian Painters, Woodbridge, 1971; Johnson, J., and A. Gruetzner, Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1980.