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 Charles Bridges  (1670 - 1747)

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Lived/Active: United Kingdom      Known for: portrait, plantation genre and figure painting

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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.

The earliest recorded professional artist in Virginia, Charles Bridges was working in the studio of Sir Godfrey Kneller in London when Colonel William Byrd of Virginia discovered him. It may have been Byrd who persuaded Bridges to come to Virginia in 1735. Byrd's family of Westover plantation and other members of plantation families along the James River became the subject of Bridges's best known work.

When Charles Bridges came to Virginia, he had the intentions of gaining portrait commissions and of founding several charity schools for the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Bridges was an exceptionally sophisticated painter for his day, undoubtedly because of his training with Kneller, a leading portrait painter of the time. Bridges's style is typical of his work of Maria Taylor Byrd (c. 1735, MMA), depicting a slim, elegant young woman, dressed in a simple gown that clings softly to her body. Bridges is also known for posing his subjects in romantic outdoor settings.

Many of the paintings discovered from the colonial time period have been attributed, in the past, to Bridges because little was known about Virginia artists of the colonial period and also because Bridges did not sign many of his works. However studies since have uncovered other painters, such as William Derring, although these artists were not as well trained or as sophisticated as Bridges.

Bridges was active in America from 1735 to 1740, but little is known of his life or work after he returned to London about 1743.

Credits:
Matthew Baigell. "The Dictionary of American Art", 1979
Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.
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