Charles Catton

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Charles Catton
Charles Catton, by Charles Catton (1728-1798).jpg
Self-portrait (1769)
Norwich, Norfolk
Died(1798-08-28)28 August 1798
New Road, London
Known forOil painting, Landscape painting
Movementfounding member of the Royal Academy

Charles Catton RA (1728 in Norwich – 28 August 1798, in London), [1] sometimes referred to as Charles Catton the elder, was a notable English coach painter, landscape, animal and figure painter of the late 18th century, and one of the founder members of the Royal Academy.

Norwich City and non-metropolitan district in England

Norwich is a historic city in Norfolk, England. Situated on the River Wensum in East Anglia, it lies approximately 100 miles (161 km) north-east of London. It is the county town of Norfolk and is considered the capital of East Anglia, with a population of 141,300. From the Middle Ages until the Industrial Revolution, Norwich was the largest city in England after London, and one of the most important.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Landscape painting genre of paintings; field of work for artists

Landscape painting, also known as landscape art, is the depiction of landscapes in art – natural scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, and forests, especially where the main subject is a wide view – with its elements arranged into a coherent composition. In other works, landscape backgrounds for figures can still form an important part of the work. Sky is almost always included in the view, and weather is often an element of the composition. Detailed landscapes as a distinct subject are not found in all artistic traditions, and develop when there is already a sophisticated tradition of representing other subjects.


Life and work

Catton was born in Norwich, Norfolk, in 1728, and said to be one of 35 children that his father had from his two marriages. [2] He was apprenticed to a London coach painter, [3] or, according to some sources, a carpenter by the name of Maxwell, [2] and studied drawing at the St. Martin's Lane Academy. He was mainly known as a landscape and animal painter, but also had a good knowledge of the figure, and a talent for humorous design. In 1781, he published an etching called The Margate Packet. [3]

He became a member of the Society of Artists, and exhibited various pictures in its galleries in 1760–1764. He was outstanding as a coach painter, producing ornamental panels for carriages, floral embellishments, and heraldic devices to the highest quality, eventually becoming coach-painter to George III. [3]

Society of Artists of Great Britain art society in London

The Society of Artists of Great Britain was founded in London in May 1761 by an association of artists in order to provide a venue for the public exhibition of recent work by living artists, such as was having success in the long-established Paris salons. Leading members seceded from the society in 1768, a move leading directly to the formation of the Royal Academy of Arts. The society was dissolved 1791 after years of decline.

George III of the United Kingdom King of Great Britain and Ireland

George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of the two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death in 1820. He was concurrently Duke and prince-elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg ("Hanover") in the Holy Roman Empire before becoming King of Hanover on 12 October 1814. He was the third British monarch of the House of Hanover, but unlike his two predecessors, he was born in Great Britain, spoke English as his first language, and never visited Hanover.

Duke of Devonshire arms Wappen Duke of Devonshire.png
Duke of Devonshire arms

He was a founding member of the Royal Academy, and, in 1784, was master of the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers. He exhibited at the Academy from its foundation until the year of his death. The works he showed were usually landscapes, but occasionally subject and animal paintings, his last exhibits there being Jupiter and Leda and Child at play. He painted an altarpiece, The Angel delivering St. Peter, for the church of St Peter Mancroft in Norwich. [3]

Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers

The Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers is one of the Livery Companies of the City of London. An organisation of painters of metals and wood, is known to have existed as early as 1283. A similar organisation of stainers, who generally worked on staining cloth for decorative wall hangings, existed as early as 1400. The two bodies merged in 1502; the new organisation was incorporated under a Royal Charter in 1581.

Altarpiece artwork (painting, sculpture or relief) behind the altar

An altarpiece is an artwork such as a painting, sculpture or relief representing a religious subject made for placing behind the altar of a Christian church. Though most commonly used for a single work of art such as a painting or sculpture, or a set of them, the word can also be used of the whole ensemble behind an altar, otherwise known as a reredos, including what is often an elaborate frame for the central image or images. Altarpieces were one of the most important products of Christian art especially from the late Middle Ages to the era of the Counter-Reformation.

St Peter Mancroft Church in United Kingdom

St Peter Mancroft is a parish church in the Church of England, in the centre of Norwich, Norfolk. After the two cathedrals, it is the largest church in Norwich and was built between 1430 and 1455. It stands on a slightly elevated position, next to the market place.

He retired from painting some years before his death. He died at his house in Judd Place, New Road, London, on 28 August 1798, and was buried in Bloomsbury cemetery. [3] [4]

Arms of the Baroness Hamilton of Hameldon, 1790 Arms of the Baroness Hamilton of Hameldon.png
Arms of the Baroness Hamilton of Hameldon, 1790

His son, Charles Catton the younger (1756–1819), who was listed in Royal Academy catalogues as living at his father's house in Gate Street, gained a reputation as a scene-painter and topographical draughtsman. [3] [4] He emigrated to the United States. [2] Among Catton's pupils was John Durand. [5]

Charles Catton the younger British artist

Charles Catton the younger was an English slave owner, topographical artist, illustrator and theatrical scene-painter.

John Durand (painter) American painter

John Durand was a colonial American portraitist. With John Mare, Abraham Delanoy, and Lawrence Kilburn, he was one of a number of portraitists living and working in New York City during the 1760s.

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  1. Charles Catton, the Elder, R.A. (Royal Academy, London).
  2. 1 2 3 John Chambers (1829). A General History of the County of Norfolk. 3. Norwich: John Stacy. p. 1096.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Stephen 1887.
  4. 1 2 Nos 3 and 4 Gate Street (British History Online).
  5. David Webb Fowler. "COLONIAL AMERICAN DIGRESSIONS". Retrieved 9 May 2015.


Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1887). "Catton, Charles (1728-1798)". Dictionary of National Biography . 9. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 325.

Further reading