Charles Green R.I.

[Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours]


He studied at the Newman Street studios, and under Mr. J. W. Whymper. His earliest work was in black and white, many of his illustrations appearing in Once a Week, London Society, The Churchman's Family Magazine, Cassell's Magazine and other periodicals, including the Illustrated London News and the Graphic, to the latter of which he was among the first contributors. In 1864, he became an Associate of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water-Colours, and a full member in 1868. He took great interest in the affairs of the society and was a regular contributor to its exhibitions. His water-colour drawings, which he exhibited for the first time in 1862, were remarkable for their finished execution. In early life he illustrated many books, including:
Cumming's Life of Our Lord,
Watts' Divine and Moral Songs, and
Thornbury's Legendary Ballads. His illustrations to Dickens are among his best work. For the Household edition of The Old Curiosity Shop he executed thirty-two drawings. His best known illustrations, however, were produced in the last few years of his life; they are --
twenty-seven drawings for A Christmas Carol (1892),
twenty-nine for A Battle of Life (1893),
thirty for The Chimes (1894), and
thirty for The Haunted Man (1895);
his last work being ten designs for the Gadshill edition of Great Expectations. Scenes from Dickens' novels figured largely as subjects for his water-colour drawings: these include 'Nell and her Grandfather at the Races,' 'Captain Cuttle and Florence Dombey,' 'Barnaby Rudge and the Rioters,' 'Mr. Mantiilini and the Brokers,' and 'The Pickwick Club.' He also painted in oil-colours, and exhibited several pictures at the Royal Academy. He died at Hampstead in 1898.

[Bryan's dictionary of painters and engravers, 1903.]

Charles Green was a watercolour painter of genre and historical subjects and an illustrator. He started under Whymper, working for Once a Week and other periodicals and became one of the most successful of the black and white draughtsmen of his time, especially in his illustrations to Dickens. Some of these were turned into watercolours, for example "Little Nell", found in the Victoria & Albert Museum.

As a watercolour painter, he became an Associate of the Royal Institute in 1864, and a Member in 1867. He exhibited from 1862-83, at the Royal Academy. Titles included "The Rivals", "The Letter Bag", "Ruin" and "The Girl I left behind me". He also exhibited 150 works at the New Watercolour Society. His elder brother was H. Towneley Green (1836-99) who also drew in black and white and painted in watercolour. A sale of both their works was held at Christie's on January 13th 1900

© Copyright Ownership: Haynes Fine Art

Charles Green was essentially an illustrator. Having studied at Heatherley's, he quickly established himself as an accomplished draughtsman and was extensively employed on such magazine's as Once a Week, Cassel's and The Graphic. He also illusrated a number of books including Dickens's Old Curiosity Shop (1876). As an exhibitor he indentified particularly with the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, becoming an associate in 1864 and a full member three years later. Green was one of the English illustrators who were most admired by Van Gogh during his stay in London in the mid-1870s.

See English Influences on Vincent van Gogh, exh. University of Nottingham, 1974-5

Much remains obscure about Green's career, but his watercolours are clear evidence that he travelled and had a keen eye for a picturesque view or detail. No doubt many such sketches were made with no further motive than to gather background material for his illustrations.

Despite its name, Stokesay Castle is a superb early example of a fortified manor house as distinct from a castle. Owned after the Conquest by the Montgomerys, it was acquired and rebuilt in the late 13th Century by Lawrence, a wool merchant in nearby Ludlow. A Jacobean gatehouse was added in 1629. Green proabably visited it when it was owned by the Alcroft family, who bought it in 1869. Restored by the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings, it was opened to the public in 1908.

The Belgian city of Bruges, home of Memling and Van Eyck, attracted many 19th Century artists and writers. Rossetti was there in 1849, William Morris in 1854, but perhaps its greatest appeal was to the Symbolist generation. George Rodenbach's evocative and influential novel Bruge-la-Morté appeared in 1892. Fernand Khnopff was haunted by the town's lonely streets, and Alfred Gilbert and Frank Brangwyn were long-term residents.

Charles Green.
The thirty-two illustrations contributed by Charles Green to the Household Edition of The Old Curiosity Shop contrast most favourably with those by "Phiz" in the original issue; these drawings, which, for the most part, were made upon paper by means of the brush-point, are entirely free from the gross exaggeration and caricature which impart such grotesqueness to the majority of the figure subjects by Hablôt Browne for this story. Mr. Green's design for the wrapper enclosing each part of the Crown Edition of the novelist's works (subsequently published by Chapman & Hall) is cleverly conceived, for here he has introduced all the leading personages, happily grouped around the principal figure, Mr. Pickwick, who occupies an elevated position upon a pile of books representing the novels of Dickens. A few years ago Messrs. A. & F. Pears commissioned Mr. Green to design a number of illustrations for a series of their Annuals, the artist's services being specially retained for the following reprints of Dickens's Christmas Books: A Christmas Carol (1892), twenty-seven drawings; The Battle of Life (1893), twenty-nine drawings; The Chimes (1894), thirty drawings; and The Haunted Man (1895), thirty drawings. His latest productions as a Dickens illustrator consist of a series of ten new designs, reproduced by photogravure for the Gadshill Edition of Great Expectations, recently published by Chapman & Hall. Undoubtedly Mr. Green's most important work in connection with Dickens is to be found in his water-colour drawings of scenes from the novels, of which a complete list is given in the chapter entitled "Dickens in Art."

Illustrators of the Household Edition -- C. Green
Charles Green's Illustrations for The Old Curiosity Shop, Great Expectations, and the Christmas Books, The Library Edition of the Christmas Stories is illustrated by F. A. Fraser, H. French, E. G. Dalziel, J. Mahoney, Townley Green, and Charles Green, fourteen woodcuts in all.

After Dickens's death, that is, during 1871-79, Chapman & Hall issued a Household Edition of his novels, ensuring their further popularity by inserting entirely fresh illustrations. The artists selected for this undertaking were Charles Green, Fred. Barnard, J. Mahoney, E. G. Dalziel, F. A. Fraser, Gordon Thomson, H. French, A. B. Frost, and J. McL. Ralston, nearly all of whom had already been represented in the Library Edition. In commenting upon these designs, it may be remarked that, of his numerous illustrators, Dickens has never been more sympathetically interpreted than by Charles Green and Fred. Barnard.

Charles Green, R.I.
"Gabriel Varden Preparing to go on Parade" (Barnaby Rudge).
"Tom Pinch and Ruth" (Martin Chuzzlewit).
"Nell and her Grandfather at the Races" (The Old Curiosity Shop).
"Captain Cuttle and Florence Dombey."
"Little Dorrit's Visit to her Sister at the Theatre."
"Mr. Turveydrop's Dancing Academy" (Bleak House).
"Mr. Mantalini and the Brokers" (Nicholas Nickleby).
"The Pickwick Club."
--- Small Drawings in Water-Colours.
"Barnaby Rudge with the Rioters."
"Simon Tappertit addressing the Rioters at the 'Boot' Tavern" (Barnaby Rudge).
"Dolly Varden's Visit to Miss Haredale" (Barnaby Rudge).
"Dick Swiveller and the Marchioness" (The Old Curiosity Shop).
"Dick Swiveller and Fred. Trent" in the Old Curiosity Shop.
"Sam Weller's Valentine."

The titles of Mr. Charles Green's admirable series of Dickens pictures were supplied to me by the artist himself, who favoured me with a complete list shortly before his death. In reference to these remarkable drawings I have received the following communication from Mr. William Lockwood, of Apsley Hall, Nottingham, for whom they were painted on commission: "The first work of Mr. Green's that really attracted my attention was his famous water-colour Race drawing, entitled, I believe, 'Here they come!' I saw that at a friend's house, and was so struck with admiration of Mr. Green's delicate sense of humour, subtle rendering of character, and fine drawing, that I at once told my friend of my great appreciation of Charles Dickens, and saw that, in my opinion, Mr. Charles Green would make the very best illustrator of his day of that great man's work. I then sought an introduction to Mr. Green, which resulted not only in my beautiful series of drawings, but in a warm friendship with the artist. In the execution of these pictures Mr. Green found most congenial work, and I think fully justified my judgment of his special power. When the series was exhibited at our local museum, it attracted universal admiration and the delighted appreciation of all classes." Mr. Lockwood has generously lent these pictures to many London galleries, including the English Humorists' Exhibition, held at the Royal Institute of Painters in Water-Colours in 1889.

Dickens and His Illustrators, by Frederic G. Kitton, 1899;

View painter's art: Charles Green (1840-1898) [new window view]