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Charles Doyle (1832-1893)

Charles Doyle (1832-1893)

Charles Doyle was one of the most distinctive fairy painters of the Victorian period, at turns high-spirited, sharp-witted, disturbing and melancholy. However, he was little known in his lifetime, at first overshadowed by his brothers, and later confined to a series of psychiatric hospitals.

Charles Doyle was born in London on 25 March 1832, into a Roman Catholic family of Irish extraction. He was coached as an artist by his father, the political caricaturist, John Doyle (‘HB’), and so followed in the footsteps of his elder brothers: James (1822-1892), Henry (1827-1892) and – especially – Richard (1824- 1883). Yet, in 1849, his father advised that he abandon his artistic ambitions and take a job in Edinburgh, as assistant to Robert Matheson, the architect of the Scottish Office of Works. From December 1853, he also studied at the Trustees’ Academy, as a result of Matheson’s recommendation.

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