Colin Hunter was born in Glasgow on 16th July 1841, and was the youngest child in a family of three sons and two daughters of John Hunter and his wife Anne MacArthur. In 1844, owing to failing health, John moved the family to Helensburgh where he opened a library and bookshop and became the post master.
From an early age Colin devoted all of his leisure time to art. After leaving school, Colin spent four years in a Glasgow shipping office, but left to pursue his dream of becoming an artist. Virtually self taught, he befriended J.Milne Donald, one of the West Coast’s most famous artists, who encouraged Colin at every opportunity. Many of Hunter’s earlier pictures appeared in the Royal Scottish Academy and the Glasgow Institute. For the most part they featured the areas around Helensburgh and Glenfalloch. By 1870 still living in Helensburgh, he had settled on painting the sea and used the Firth of Clyde and Arran as his inspiration ,and his work was attracting the attention of the Royal Academy, with his first painting exhibited in 1868. After a brief period in Edinburgh, Hunter left for London in 1872.
In 1873 he returned to Glasgow to marry Isabella, on the 20th November, with whom he had a family of two sons and two daughters. This year was to prove to be doubly satisfying for Colin as this was the first year that he was to have his exhibition at the Royal Academy. He was to continue to exhibit every year until his death, showing over 100 paintings in all. His most famous works exhibited included: 'Trawlers waiting for darkness', 'Digging Bait', 'Their only harvest' (which is in the Tate Gallery having been bought under the terms of the Chantrey Bequest in 1879), 'Silver of the Sea' and 'Waiting for the homeward bound'. Colin became RWS in 1882 and was elected ARA in 1884.
In 1877 he moved to a fine house in Melbury Road, Kensington where he built a studio. He then experienced period of unqualified success, and by 1903 had shown over 90 paintings at the Royal Academy, with many being acquired for public collections.
Hunter died in Melbury Road on the 24th September 1904 and is buried in Helensburgh.
The image of Colin Hunter is taken from a life sketch by Walter Wilson.