Eastlake, Sir Charles Lock
life royal academy gallery
EASTLAKE, SIR CHARLES LOCK (1793-1865), an emi-nent painter who became president of the Royal Academy in London, was born on 17th November 1793 in Plymouth, where his father, a man of uncommon gifts but of indolent temperament, was solicitor to the Admiralty and judge ad-vocate of the Admiralty Court. Charles was educated (like Sir Joshua Reynolds) at the Plympton grammar-school, and in London at the Charterhonse. Towards 1809, partly through the influence of his fellow-Devonian Haydon, of whom Ile became a pupil, he determined to be a, painter; Ile also studied in the Royal Academy school. In 1813 he exhibited in the British Institution his first picture, a work of considerable size, Christ restoring life to the Daughter of Jairus. In 1814 he was commissioned to copy some of the paintings collected by Napoleon in the Louvre ; he returned to England iu 1815, and practised portrait-paint-ing at Plymouth. Here lie saw Napoleon a captive on the " Bellerophon ;" from a boat he made some sketches of the emperor, and he afterwards painted, from these sketches and from memory, a life-sized full-length portrait of him, which was pronounced a good likeness ; it belongs to the marquis of Lansdowne. In l 817 Eastlake went to Italy ; in 1819 to Greece ; in 1820 tack to Italy, where he remained altogether fourteen years, sojourning chiefly in Rome and in Ferrara. Subjects of banditti and peasant-life eno-aged his pencil mostly from 1820 onwards. In 1827 hbe exhibited at the Royal Academy his picture of the Spartan Isidas - who (as narrated by Plutarch in the life of Agesilaus), rushing naked out of his bath, performed prodigies of valour against the Theban host. This was the first work that attracted much notice to the name of East-lake, who in consequence obtained his election as A.R.A.; in 1830, when he returned to England, as R.A. In 1850 he succeeded Shee as P.R.A. (his only worthy competitor being Landseer, with the elder Pickersgill and George Jones besides, to mark the poor estate of 13ritish art, or of its official representatives), and, as usual, he was knighted. Prior to this, in 1841, lie had been appointed secretary to the Royal Commission for decorating the Houses of Parliament, and he retained this post until the commission was dissolved in 1862. In 1843 he was rnade keeper of the National Gallery, a. post which he resigned in 1847 in consequence of an unfortunate purchase that roused much animadversion ; in 1855, director of the same in-stitution with more extended powers. During his directors'hip he purchased for the gallery 155 pictures, mostly of the Italian schools. He became also a D.C.L. of Oxford, EIZ.S., Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, and member of various foreign academies. In 1849 he married Miss Elizabeth Rigby, a lady of some literary distinction. In 1865 he fell ill at Milan ; he died at Pisa on 24th December in the same year, and lies buried at Kensal reen. - As a painter Eastlake was gentle, harmonions, diligent, and correct ; lacking fire of invention or of execution ; eclectic, without being exactly imitative ; influenced rather by a love of ideal grace and beauty than by any marked bent of individual power or vigorous originality. Among his principal works (which were not numerous, 51 being the total exhibited in the Academy) are :-1828, Pilgrims arriving in sight of Rome (repeated in 1835 and 1836, and perhaps on the whole his chef d'cruvre);1829, Byron's Dream /in the National Gallery) ; 1834, the Escape of Francesco di Carrara (a duplicate in the National Gallery); 1841, Christ Lamenting over Jerusalem (ditto); 1843, Hagar and Ishmael ; 1845, Comm ; 1849, Helena ; 1851, Ippolita Torelli ; 1853, Violante ; 1855, Beatrice. These female heads, of a refined semi-ideal quality, with something of Venetian glow of tint, are the most satisfactory specimens of Eastlake's work to an artist's eye. He was an accomplished and judicious scholar in matters of art, and published, in 1840, a translation of Goethe's Theory of Colours ; in 1847 (his chief literary work) Materials for a History of Oil-Painting, especially valuable as regards the Flemish school ; in 1848, Contributions to the Literature of the Fine Arts ; in 1851 and 1855, translated editions of Kugler's History of the Italian, Sch,00l of Painting, amd Handbook of Painting.
Sir Charles Eastlake was a man of middle height, spare form, reddish complexion, bright hair (scanty in advanced life); of unassutning and rather courtier-like bearing ; reluctant to oppose or offend, but with a strong sense of official duty. He was a neat and appropriate speaker, and filled his presidential and other offices with great credit in the eyes of all who appreciate moderation and cultured finish in the speech and bearing of a public man.