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 Godfrey Douglas Giles  (1857 - 1941)

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Lived/Active: United Kingdom/Scotland      Known for: figure, genre, animal paintings, sporting scenes

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Ad Code: 3
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Godfrey Douglas Giles (1857-1941)

Born at Karachi, now Kurrachee, Pakistan on 9 November 1857 and baptized on 28 December the same year, son of Capt. Edward Giles and his wife Emily née Atkins.  He was sent to Sandhurst to launch a military career and his first posting was to India in 1875.  He served in the Second Afghan War with the 1st Sind Horse and was present at the battle of Hhuski-Nakhud in February 1879 and later painted the Charge of the Scinde Horse at Khuski-Nakhud.  He accompanied the Gordon Relief Expedition to Sudan and commanded the Turkish cavalry at El Teb and provided a sketch of the battle which was the basis for a large fold-out panorama of the battle in The Graphic of 1 March 1884 and began painting a scene of the battle when he returned to Cairo.  He also served as captain in the Loyal Suffolk Hussars and the Artists' Rifle Corps but having attained the rank of major, retired from the army in 1884.

The following year he went to Paris and studied under Charles Emile Carolus-Duran (1838-1917) and successfully exhibited paintings such as The Battle of Tamai and El Teb at the Paris Salon and the Royal Academy after which he settled in Newmarket, Suffolk where he was able to depict horses and horse-racing scenes.  His illustrations also appeared in the weekly Black & White Budget in 1891 and he also exhibited at Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, Grosvenor Gallery, Liverpool Walker Art Gallery, Manchester City Art Gallery, Royal Society of British Artists, Royal Institute of British Painters and Royal Scottish Academy giving his address as the Junior Army & Navy Club, London in 1882 and from Newmarket 1904.

After the outbreak of the Boer War in South Africa in 1899, Giles was sent there as war correspondent and artist by The Graphic and The Daily Graphic, and was attached to French's 1st Cavalry Brigade.  He witnessed the surrender of General Piet Cronje after the Battle of Pardeberg, and present at the subsequent relief of Kimberley.  Giles contributed greatly to the pictorial record of the Boer War with works on display in museums in both South Africa and England.

He was awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal on 12 February 1903.  His sporting works include The Finish of the Derby 1893, painted for Mrs McAlmont who won the Derby that year with 'Isinglass', The Derby 1901, The Worksop Handicap, Chesterfield 1894. He also painted polo, hunting and pig-sticking scenes.  He also illustrated work for The Badminton Library and Vanity Fair and became well known through the prints that ensued.  Giles finally settled in Scotland and died in Edinburgh on 1 February 1941, aged 83.

Information provided by Tony Copsey, author and researcher of artists in Suffolk County, England.

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