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 Charles Ramus Forrest  (c. 1787 - 1826)

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Lived/Active: Quebec / Canada/England      Known for: painting, drawing, military topography, illustration

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Village and pagoda below Patna Azimabad, on the Ganges
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Charles Ramus Forrest (c.1787 – 1827) (1) (2)

A painter, draftsman, military topographical artist and illustrator, Lt. Colonel Charles Ramus Forrest was also a combat veteran of the Napoleonic Wars (Peninsular War) and the War of 1812 (Battle of New Orleans). He was born in England and served in India (1807 – 1811); Spain (1812 – 1814); New Orleans, USA (1814 – 1815); Ireland (1816 – 1817); Bordeaux, France (1820 – 1821); Quebec City, Canada (1821 – 1823); and Cork, Ireland (1825). His last posting was in England where he died in the city of Bath. (3) (4)

His mediums were watercolor, graphite, pen & ink, grisaille* and book illustration. His subjects were landscapes, harbors, topography, portraits, genre*, historic sites and buildings like the Taj Mahal, and natural wonders like Niagara Falls and Montmorency Falls. His style was picturesque* Realism*. The AskART images are good illustrations of his work.

Forrest was considered an amateur artist and did not exhibit during his life. His paintings and drawings were used to illustrate his travels and for military topographical interest. He did, however, publish one illustrated book titled A Picturesque Tour along the Rivers Ganges and Jumna in India (1824). (5)

Posthumously, his works were included in the exhibitions “A Century of Colonial Painting: The Seven Years War to Confederation”, Confederation Art Gallery and Museum, Charlottetown, P.E.I. (1964); “Views and Visions: American Landscape Before 1830”, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT. and Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (1986 – 1987); and “Lord Dalhousie: Patron and Collector”, National Gallery of Canada (2008).

According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum websites, Forrest’s paintings and prints are in the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), British Museum (London), Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.), Quebec Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec City), Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto), and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa).

(1) Important note: There are two frequently used years of birth for Charles Ramus Forrest: 1750 and c.1787. The 1750 date is a mistake; it is usually attached to museum or auction descriptions of engravings of the West Indies printed in the early 1780s (before Charles Ramus Forrest was born) which are inscribed "Drawn by Lieut. Chas. Forrest of the 90th Regt. of Foot". Birth year aside, British army records show Charles Ramus Forrest was not in the 90th Regiment of Foot and was promoted to Lieutenant in 1802. British army records also show that there were two Lieutenants Charles Forrest in the 90th Regiment of Foot, which was raised in England during the American War of Independence, served for a time in the West Indies, and was disbanded at the peace of 1783; one of these Charles Forrests was probably the painter of the West Indies scenes. Also, one of these Charles Forrests, or his son, was still on the army lists after Charles Ramus Forrest joined the army (shows up on 1803 list); this perhaps contributed to the mix-up of joining both service records and the erroneous 1750 birth date for Charles Ramus Forrest. Sources: British Light Infantry Regiments, British Armed; W.H. Coverdale Collection of Canadiana – Paintings, Water-Colours and Drawings” (see AskART book references); and The Royal Military Calendar…  (see AskART book references). M.D. Silverbrooke

(2) Please note: A 1787 birth year for Forrest means that he was awarded an army commission when he was 15 years old (1802). While this seems unlikely today, we note that Major General James Pattison Cockburn (see AskART), a contemporary of Forrest, received his first commission twelve days before his sixteenth birthday. Sources: The Royal Military Calendar… ” (see AskART book references) and The Drawings of James Cockburn: A visit through Quebec’s Past (1976), by Christina Cameron and Jean Trudel (see AskART book references).

(3) While in Canada, Forrest was aide-de-camp to the Earl of Dalhousie, the Governor General of British North America. Source: Catalogue of the National Gallery of Canada Ottawa: Canadian Art Volume One A – F (see AskART book references).

(4) Forrest’s war journal titled The Battle of New Orleans: A British View was published in 1961 (see AskART book references). Source: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

(5) A Picturesque Tour along the Rivers Ganges and Jumna in India is digitized and available to read online for free courtesy of Google E books at:

Benezit Dictionary of Artists”(2006), English version (see AskART book references)

Biographical Index of Artists in Canada (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann (see AskART book references)

The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references)

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists A to F 5th edition (1997), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references)

A to Z of Canadian Art: artists & art terms (1997), by Blake McKendry (see AskART book references)

Art and Architecture in Canada (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson (see AskART book references)

Catalogue of the National Gallery of Canada Ottawa: Canadian Art Volume One A – F (1988), general editors Charles C. Hill and Pierre B. Landry (see AskART book references)

W.H. Coverdale Collection of Canadiana – Paintings, Water-Colours and Drawings (1983), by W. Martha E. Cooke (see AskART book references)

A People’s Art: Primitive, Naive, Provincial, and Folk Painting in Canada (1974), by J. Russell Harper (see AskART book references)

Canadian Watercolours & Drawings in the Royal Ontario Museum (1974), by Mary Allodi (see AskART book references)

Early Painters and Engravers in Canada (1970), by J. Russell Harper (see AskART book references)

A Picturesque Tour along the Rivers Ganges and Jumna in India (1824), by Lt. Colonel Forrest (see AskART book references)

The Royal Military Calendar, Or Army Service and Commission Book: Containing the Services and Progress of Promotion of the Generals, Lieutenant-generals, Major-generals, Colonels, Lieutenant-colonels, and Majors of the Army, According to Seniority: with Details of the Principal Military Events of the Last Century, Volume 5 (1820), edited by  John Philippart (see AskART book references)

Canadian Heritage Information Network* (biography, museums, illustrations)

Art Gallery of Ontario (catalogue summaries online)

National Gallery of Canada (biography, illustrations)

British Light Infantry Regiments, British Armed (90th Regiment of Foot history)

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
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