Charles Cooper Henderson

(14 June 1803 - 21 August 1877)

Henderson was born in Abbey House, Chertsey, Surrey to John Henderson and Georgiana Jane (nee Keate). His maternal grandfather was George Keate and his elder brother was John Henderson, the antiquary and benefactor of the British Museum. He was sent to Winchester School and then studied to be a lawyer. His father was an amateur artist and patron and his mother had exhibited four of her paintings in 1791. Henderson trained under Samuel Prout.

Henderson was estranged from his father after he married a young girl called Charlotte By in 1828. They were to have nine children together and seven of these were boys. Their children were Charles Cooper (the younger), John Keate Shepard, Charlotte (the younger), Kennart Gregg, Robert, Mary, Roderick William, George By and Henry Cooper Henderson. They all lived out of their infancy but Robert died whilst still a child. Henderson had just two paintings exhibited at the Royal Academy, both in the 1840s.

In 1850, Henderson inherited his family's money when his mother died. His mother's money had come from George Keate. In 1805 his mother and father were failing to maintain 250 dilapidated houses in Whitechapel, but they were still receiving £700 in income. He also came into money from his wife's family who had land in Canada. With no worries about his income, Henderson took the opportunity to give his energies to painting.

The poorly maintained houses in Whitechapel that maintained the Henderson family were bringing in four pence per room per night where they were common lodging houses in the year that Henderson died. Eleven years later it was this area that became notorious in its association with Jack the Ripper. Many of Henderson's paintings were engraved by a number of people including himself. Prints of his coaching scenes are valued and collected. He has original paintings in several public collections in Dublin and in the UK. In 1877 Henderson died a widower at his home, 3 Lamb's Conduit Place, London, on 21 August 1877, and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery; he has a memorial at St. Nicholas's Church in Shepperton.

CHARLES COOPER HENDERSON, painter and etcher was born at the Abbey House, Chertsey. He was a younger son of John Henderson, and brother of John Henderson (1797–1878) [q. v.], the art collector. He was educated at Winchester as a commoner, and studied for the bar, but did not practise. Henderson was a very prolific artist, skilled in drawing the horse, and produced many subjects illustrative of coaching and scenes ‘on the road.’ Numbers of these were engraved and published by Messrs. Fores of Piccadilly, by Ackermann, and others; some he etched himself. When quite young he etched some views in Italy. Henderson married in 1828, Charlotte, eldest daughter of John By, by whom he had seven sons, including Colonel Kennett Gregg Henderson, C.B., and two daughters. He died at Lower Halliford-on-Thames, 21 Aug. 1877. Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 25, Henderson, Charles Cooper, by Lionel Henry Cust.

HENDERSON, Charles Cooper (1803-1877) The Taglioni!!!
London: R. Ackermann, 1 October 1837. Aquatint, printed in colours and finished by hand, by John Harris, (1811-1865); after Charles Cooper Henderson, (1803-1877), British. A fine copy of the original issue on 'Whatman Turkey Mill' paper showing the Windsor coach at full speed. "In 1837 and 1839, Ackermann published many aquatints after Cooper Henderson's pictures of which 'The Taglioni!!!' is the best. Devoid of setting, except for a line for the road, the speed of the coach and the actions of the horses pulling it are accentuated by the lack of unnecessary fuss or detail. One can almost hear the whole ensemble humming along like a finely tuned machine." (Lane Cooper Henderson and the Open Road p. 60). Cooper Henderson "was educated at Brighton and then Winchester before studying rather idly for the Bar and enjoying a European tour with his father and elder brother, John. While his father and brother sketched panoramas, Cooper Henderson found, to him, more interesting subjects among the coaches, carriages and postillions 'on the road'. On Christmas Eve, 1829 (sic), he was married secretly to Charlotte By (then aged sixteen), the daughter of a Thames lighterman. Disapproving of the marriage, his father gave him a small allowance and told him to leave London. Thrown mainly onto his own resources, Cooper Henderson moved to Bracknell in Berkshire and started to paint for his living. He was quickly successful and his pictures of coaches and coaching are well known, being more accurate and lively than those of his near contemporary, James Pollard. He soon received sufficient commissions to afford to return to London where he was reconciled with his parents.

The best known prints are his coaching recollections and Incidents," published by Messrs. Fores, while two rare prints represent "The Age" (1829), leaving the Castle Square, Brighton, and "The Taglioni" -- the well-known dancer being represented on the harness and panels -- with Lord Chesterfield on the box. Henderson was a good whip himself, and in his pictures he gives correct details, such as check, reins, blindfolded horses, &c., which an artist who was not a coachman might easily overlook. His horses, too are good types of the old coach horses, and is work will probablyy soon rise in value; the prints at present sell from £5. to £15. Shayer, who painted some fine coaching scenes, and Herring, Aiken, senr. and junr., are other are other artists who occasionally turned their attention to the "Road."

The old coaching days have been well represnted by Pollard, and his coloured prints from his paintings are worth from £35. to £50. C. Cooper Henderson painted many coaching scenes in oils and water colours which have never been reproduced. Baily's Magazine of Sports & Pastimes, Lillian E. Bland, Volume 87, The Old Coaching Days, 1907; (Charles Lane British Racing Prints p.119); Siltzer p.137.

Charles Cooper Henderson was a very prolific artist and extremely skilled in drawing horses and coaching and road scenes. His paintings are acknowledged as the most accurate and authentic pictures of nineteenth century carriages and mail and stage coaches. He married in 1828, and fathered seven sons, among them Colonel Kennet Gregg Henderson, C.B., and two daughters. He died at Lower Halliford-on-Thames on 21 August 1877, and was buried in the catacombs as Kensal Green.

There is a book of his paintings: Cooper Henderson and the Open Road: The Life and Works of Charles Cooper Henderson, p.96; Lane, Charles, London: J.A. Alen and Co. Ltd.; Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

View painter's art: Charles Cooper Henderson (1803-1877) [new window view]