Charles Catton

Charles Catton the elder (1728—1798) subscribed to the first edition of Kirby’s Method of Perspective, where his name is starred as a member of the Academy of Painting. Catton in some ways had a career that paralleled Kirby’s. Where Kirby was from Suffolk, Catton was from Norwich in Norfolk. They were both coach painters, Kirby leaving that work when he moved to London, while Catton went on to become coach-painter to George III, although sadly not in time to work on the famous Gold State Coach. Coach painters had to paint the coats of arms on the doors of the coach, and Catton introduced an innovation to this kind of heraldic painting with naturalistic animals such as lions as the supporters, instead of the simpler ‘heraldic’ style of animals (note the lion in his self-portrait).

In the 1760s he was a regular exhibitor at the annual exhibitions of the Incorporated Society of Artists, but the political in-fighting of the late 1760s that saw the foundation of the Royal Academy saw him as a founding member, nominated by George III. He also went on to become Master of the Painter-Stainers Company in 1783.

Norwich Museum recently acquired a bound sketchbook of Catton’s containing 143 drawings.

One significant difference between Catton and Kirby, is that Catton was reportedly one of 35 children.

Here is a Norfolk landscape of Catton’s, now owned by the National Trust.

A self-portrait by Catton is at the Yale Center for British Art.

Yale also has a less-serious, but rather fun, late print of his called The Margate Hoy.

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