Core Holdings of the Tormey-Holder Collection: A. Charles
Young, Georgian Era Girl
with Long, Brown Hair
by A. Charles (fl. 1784-1807)
1 1/2 x 2 inches (sight)
watercolor on ivory; housed in a gilt metal pendant frame
About the Artist: Mr. A. Charles was born in England circa 1768, and died circa 1810. Active from 1784 to 1807, he painted both full-color miniatures and silhouettes in watercolor on ivory. Surviving examples of both remain highly collectible. His miniatures are painted in a rather naive, but quite charming manner. Not requiring as much depth or detail, his silhouettes are more finely executed. In 1793, he was appointed painter to the Prince of Wales (son of King George III; himself later becoming King George IV, in 1820). From late 1793, he also referred to himself in advertisements as a Royal Academician. There is no record, however, of his having actually been a member of the Royal Academy of Arts. Only ever referred to himself in print as "Mr. Charles" or "A. Charles". He is, likewise, only referred to in public records as "A. Charles". Not knowing his full Christian name, it is difficult to trace his family origins. He is known, however, to have been active in London from 1784. His last advertisement in London appeared in 1797; but London land tax records show him to have rented a place of business on Hemmings Row (St. Martin in the Fields) through 1807. Typically signed his works as "by Charles" or "by Charles, R.A.". Some dealers, unaware of the artist's true identity, have taken liberty with the meaning of this signature, purporting it to refer to a haughty painter who felt himself important enough that he only had to sign by his first name. Charles Catton is a name commonly referenced (even though Catton never painted miniatures). Listed by Blättel (pages 214, 215), Foskett (page 508) and Schidlof (page 139, 140).