(1860 - 1940)
Charles William Bartlett was active/lived in New York, Hawaii / United Kingdom. Charles Bartlett is known for portrait painting, wood-block print-Oriental themes.
Biography from the Archives of askART
Known for watercolor paintings and woodblock prints, especially of
scenes from his travels through Southeast Asia, China, and later
Hawaii, Charles Bartlett was born and raised in England. He first
work in a metallurgical company and then at the age of twenty-three
began a fine-art career by enrolling for three years at the Royal
Academy in London. Then he went to Paris to study at the Academie
Julian in Paris. In 1889, he returned to England and married but lost
his wife and infant son in childbirth.
Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography from Douglas Frazer Fine Art, Ltd.
He spent a year
traveling in Europe with his friend and fellow artist, Frank Brangwyn,
and painted most figure works of peasant women and children, likely
working through his grief at his own personal loss. Later he did
landscapes as well as peasant genre, and worked in both oil and
watercolor. He was especially commended for his watercolors, and
in recognition of this skill, was one of the first 25 members elected
to the prestigious group, Societe Peinture a l'Eau, in Paris.
the following years, Bartlett returned to England, remarried in 1898,
and exhibited several oil paintings including at the Royal Academy and
the Salon des Beaux Arts. At this time, he became interested in
printmaking, especially etchings.
In 1913, he and his wife
began a year and a half sketching and painting trip to India and also
went to Ceylon, Indonesia, and China. In 1915, they arrived in Tokyo,
Japan. There they met the Austrian artist Fritz Capelari who
introduced them to publisher Watanabe Shozaburo. From this
meeting Bartlett and Watanabe formed a collaboration whereby Bartlett's
watercolors were made into woodblock prints. Bartlett used Watanabe
print shop as a work place for carving, and the resulting prints had
simple designs and flat areas of rich color in styles ranging from
modern to traditional.
In 1917, Bartlett and his wife Catherine
went to Hawaii intending after a short visit to return to England, but
they were so enamored with the scenery and people of Hawaii that they
settled in Honolulu. Working as an association of Watanabe,
Bartlett designed woodblocks that were made into prints. He and
his wife continued to travel widely, and attended print exhibitions on
the mainland United States. However, they built their life in
Hawaii, being active in the art community and making good income from
his printmaking activity, although Bartlett also received portrait
commissions from wealthy, prominent Hawaiians.
Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, most of Bartlett's woodblocks were
destroyed, but Watanabe was able to salvage some from his collection as
was Bartlett, so prints continued to be made throughout the
1920s. After Bartlett's death in 1940, the remaining blocks for
his prints were scored to prevent reprinting
In 1928, Bartlett
was a key organizer of the Honolulu Printmakers as well as local
artists A.S. Macleod, John Kelly and Huc Luquiens. From 1929, the
group has held an annual exhibition at the Honolulu Academy of Arts,
and with each exhibition, they offer a gift limited edition print by an
outstanding member. In 1933, Bartlett was chosen to create the
very first gift print, a color etching called Java, depicting
an Indonesian peasant family returning home after a day's work, against
a background of rice paddies and palm trees.
In 1939, the
Honolulu Academy held a major exhibition of Bartlett's work with 63
paintings and prints. He died the following year at the age of
eighty. In 2001, the
Honolulu Academy of Arts held a
retrospective including all of his woodblock print designs as well as a
collection of original works in oil and watercolor.
Peter Falk, Who's Who in American Art
David Forbes: Encounters With Paradise
Though he started out as a chemist, English-born Charles Bartlett found
his true calling in art, which he pursued full-time beginning in 1883.
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As a young man, he studied at the Royal Academy in London and at the
Julian Academy in Paris, where, in addition to the Salon des Beaux
Arts, he exhibited his early work. At this time he was known primarily
for his watercolors and etchings.
Bartlett left Europe in the early 1900s and traveled to Asia where he
spent three years exploring the beauty and culture of India, China, and
Japan. These experiences provided the subject matter for his art
throughout his lifetime. It was while in Japan that Bartlett learned
the art of woodblock printing, and he became famous for this technique.
Others would argue that he was most famous for his portraits, and that
he was Hawaii's leading portraitist in the early 20th century. Bartlett
went to Hawaii in February 1917 intending to stay only a brief time,
but given the enthusiastic reception he received, ended up staying.
His first Hawaiian exhibition (of watercolors and woodblock prints)
took place at the Charles Cooke mansion, and was quite successful.
Thereafter, he became a frequent exhibitor at the Honolulu Academy of
Arts, including having a solo show there in 1939.
He died in Honolulu in 1940, remembered as one of Hawaii's most beloved artists.
Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art
David Forbes, Encounters With Paradise.
By Sarah Nelson
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