Moore, James (1819–83), surgeon and artist, was born March 1819 in Belfast, son of David Moore, RN (who was appointed fleet surgeon by Nelson (1803) as a reward for distinguished service, and later practised in Belfast), and Margarita Moore (née Medin), the Greek daughter of the governor of the Adriatic island of Corzula. After attending school in Belfast, he graduated MD (1842) from Edinburgh University, where he was a student of Professor James Syme (1799–1870), who commissioned him to illustrate his Principles of surgery (1842). Admitted MRCS, England (1842), he spent a year visiting hospitals in Dublin and Paris. Returning to Belfast, he was appointed surgeon (later consulting surgeon) at the Belfast General (Royal) Hospital. He commanded a large and lucrative practice and was respected for his diagnostic acumen and his daring and consummate skill, which attracted students to Belfast to watch his operations. In recognition of his skill, Sir Charles Bell (1774–1842) and Professor John Goodsir (1814–67), FRS, bequeathed their instruments to him. He was attached to many institutions, including the Ulster Hospital for Diseases of the Eye, Ear, and Throat, the Belfast Lunatic Asylum, and the Sick and Wounded Seamen and Mariners, Port of Belfast. A member of the Belfast Medical Society and vice-president of the Belfast Clinical and Pathological Society (1856), he was subsequently a member of the Ulster Medical Society on its foundation, by the union of these two societies, in 1862.
During his student days, he met many Scottish artists and began to draw and paint in watercolours. One of Belfast's finest watercolourists, he spent all his free time sketching – mainly landscapes, ancient buildings, and ruins. On his frequent travels to Scotland and England, mainly connected with his practice, and on his visits to the Continent, he was never without a colour box and sketch pad. His skilful, vivid, and realistic sketches were often quickly drawn and completed on the spot. He regularly contributed works, including large, highly finished landscapes, to the RHA between 1840 and 1883, and was elected an honorary member in 1868; he exhibited at, and was an associate of, the Royal Scottish Academy, and also exhibited at the Cork exhibition in 1883. His work is represented at the National Gallery of Scotland, the Belfast Art Gallery, and the Ulster Museum, which has 409 of his drawings, a third of which were exhibited in 1973 in conjunction with an exhibition of works by Andrew Nicholl (qv) – the exhibition was later shown in the NGI. A portrait drawing of Moore in 1839, by the Italian artist Felice Piccioni (active in Belfast and Cork 1830–42), was displayed together with Moore's works at the Belfast Museum and Art Gallery in 1907.
Extremely active, progressive, and prominent in the cultural life of Belfast, he was a committee member of the Society for the Promotion of the Fine Arts, involved in the founding of the School of Design (1850), and a founding member of the board of managers of the Government School of Art (1870). Fond of music, he was one of the promoters of the building of the Ulster Hall; enjoying literature, he entertained leading actors and was a friend of Charles Dickens. He was interested in archaeology and geology and possessed a large collection of specimens. Elected MRIA (1861), he was a member of the Werner Society of Antiquarians of Edinburgh. Philanthropic activities included membership of the poor law board and of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, acting as its representative. He died 28 October 1883 at his home, 7 Chichester St., Belfast, and was buried in the family plot, at Knockbreda churchyard, Co. Down. He married Thomasine M'Donnell; they had one son and four daughters.