The Steamer Wheat

James Dixon 1887-1970

oil on board

55 x 75cm


Provenance: Woolley & Wallis, 2008


James Dixon was a landscape painter born on Tory Island, County Donegal born in 1887. He remained on the island his whole life, with only a few visits to the mainland. He only started painting at the age of 72 years old after seeing the artist Derek Hill working on a landscape painting and who also gave him painting materials such as oils. Dixon worked in an untutored style, depicting scenes of rural labour and unusual local events with a loose, feathery brushstroke and a visceral range of colours. His paintings attracted considerable critical acclaim in the 1960s and he exhibited in Belfast, Dublin, London and Vienna. The painting potentially depicts the steamer “Wheatplain” that wrecked onto Tory Island in April 1930. Crew can be seen gathering on the rock, where the boat has been retched onto and are presumably waiting for their turn in the row boat going to the rescue steamer. There is a record of a discussion about the wreck and looting of it on the Houses of Parliament website.