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'Waiting for legal advice' - James Campbell

Old man with serious face sits next to young boy, with two men whispering behind them

  • Oil on board 77.5 cm x 63.5 cm (30 1/2" x 25")
  • Signed and dated J Campbell Junior 1857
  • Walker Art Gallery


This interior of a Liverpool solicitor's office shows an old man all set for an argument while the two clerks whisper behind a screen. It is the most fully worked out of Campbell's anecdotal paintings conceived in a sub-Wilkie vein, with an accumulation of detail extending even to the Liverpool Almanack and Table pasted upon the wall.

Campbell's own father worked for the Sun Insurance Company in Liverpool and the artist was no doubt familiar with the warren of clerk's offices in Liverpool's city centre.

detail showing man's face

Detail showing clerk and almanac

James Campbell (1828-1893), son of a Liverpool insurance clerk, studied at the Liverpool Academy and at the Royal Academy. For a few years from about 1856-1862 he was influenced by Pre-Raphaelite ideas without however becoming involved in the gravity or moral earnestness of subject that others pursued. His was ultimately more a flirtation with the technical side of Pre-Raphaelite practice. The best of Campbell's little pictures are delightfully straightforward and minutely detailed accounts of respectable lower-middle class and artisan life in Liverpool. He is the most Dickensian of all the Pre-Raphaelites.

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