Charles Deane (1790 – 1878)
The Thames At Twickenham
Oil on canvas
30 x 50 in. (76.2 x 127 cm)
Few Thames landscapes can match the beauty of Charles Deane’s scene at Twickenham, which is distinguished by its close observation of buildings and craft, its serenity and subtle colouring. Although Deane painted many scenes during his extensive tours around the British Isles and the Continent, his views of the River Thames are his most celebrated pieces and remain an important record of the great river before its banks were built up and the waterside buildings were redeveloped. Other examples of his Thames landscapes can be found in such collections as the National Maritime Museum (Fletcher’s Yard, Limehouse c.1840) and at the Museum of London (Waterloo Bridge and the Lambeth Waterfront from the Waterloo Stairs 1821). The present view was recorded by a number of others painters such as the renowned topographical artist Thomas Girtin, whose watercolour copied by an unknown artist and dated 1817 is, like an oil by William Howard of circa 1860, now owned by The Twickenham Museum. Like them the present scene, showing St Mary’s church at centre, is viewed from the foot of Wharf Lane, where goods were loaded and unloaded at the Town Wharf. With the introduction of better roads and the railway during the 1840s, the role of small working boats and the ferryman declined as steam boats began populating the waterway and thus this stretch of the river ceased to look as graceful as it did when Deane depicted it.
Charles Deane was born in about 1790 in central London where between 1815 and 1851 he gained significant acclaim when 174 of his works hung at the major annual exhibitions, principally at the Royal Academy, the British Institution and to a lesser extent the Royal Society of British Artists. Other of his Thames scenes include View on the Thames towards Richmond, which was shown at the British Institution in 1820. Three years later and at the same venue he exhibited Cheyne Walk, Chelsea as well as a pair of oils entitled View on the Thames and View of Chelsea, which were all purchased by important buyers and for large sums. The former was bought by the Earl of Hardwicke for 40 guineas and the latter two by the Marquis of Stafford for 66 guineas.
Like many of his contemporaries, Deane travelled widely around the British Isles, resulting in a number of picturesque scenes inspired by his visits to North Wales and the Lake District as well as Yorkshire, Maidstone in Kent and Bristol. In about 1830 Deane began touring the Continent where he took in Holland, Belgium as well as Germany which gave rise to accomplished views of the castle and churches along the Moselle and the Rhine. He also travelled to France, painting a number of scenes along the River Seine, which like this and so many of his landscapes, features water in a dominant position.
For most of his career, London remained Deane’s main place of residence. By 1815 he was living in Charles Street near the Middlesex Hospital; he then moved to Gloucester Place, where he is recorded in 1819 but by 1822 he had settled at 8 Blandford Place, near Regent’s Park with his wife Elizabeth, who had been born at Carlisle in Cumberland. In December 1823 came the arrival of their daughter Matilda, who in the summer of 1857 married a surgeon from Tunbridge Wells, Kent named Henry Lindsell Sopwith; however within months of their wedding Sopwith committed adultery and thus having filed for divorce Matilda remained with her parents for the rest of their lives. By 1861, when the artist was 72, he, Elizabeth and Matilda were living at Ilfracombe in Devon. Elizabeth died in 1864; thereafter the artist was cared for by Matilda at their home, Castle House, Ilfracombe, where Deane remained until his death at the grand age of 88 on 13th April 1878, leaving effects of about £5,000 to his daughter.