James had toyed with the idea of becoming a painter, and, while taking lessons in the Newport, Rhode Island, studio of William Morris Hunt in 1859 and 1860, he and his younger brother and fellow student Henry met John La Farge, who had recently returned from studying art in Paris. The beginning of their long friendship is documented by this early portrait by John of William in the act of painting.

Oil on cardboard, circa 1859
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Gift of William James IV

Chronology and Photos | William James page