Charles Haigh-Wood was born in 1856 in a home above a workshop in Bury, England where his father Charles Wood, a master craftsman, built picture frames. By the 1870s when Charles Sr.'s business was prospering, he diversified into picture-dealing, and moved into a substantial new home. Young Charles was not only as ambitious as his father, but highly talented artistically. As a teen, his father enrolled him in Manchester Art College, where he was awarded several prizes, and it was at this young age that he chose to combine his parents' surnames as Haigh-Wood. In 1873, at just 17, Charles Haigh-Wood was accepted to study art at The Royal Academy in London.
While attending the Academy, Haigh-Wood captured a great deal of attention, and by 21 he was exhibiting at the Academy and was elected a member. For three years following, he traveled and studied Renaissance masters in Italy, before returning to settle in England. His talent at painting portraits brought in many commissions, but Haigh-Wood was best known for painting drawing room "conversation pieces," or story-telling scenes of polite society, which made him a popular genre painter in the late 19th century. These works were also lucrative, as they were purchased by greeting-card manufacturers for reproduction, galleries from as far away as Australia bidding for his pictures.
Upon attaining financial success as an artist as well as from a sizeable inheritance, Charles no longer devoted his time solely to commercial art. He began working in a more social realist style, painting scenes of villagers working, and in particular the fishing village of Yorkshire. "In the Garden" is such a work, depicting a girl carrying a pail from a garden cottage, perhaps to fill it with water from the fountain in the foreground, or perhaps with produce from the flowering garden. The appealing charm of Haigh-Wood's early drawing room paintings still prevails in this mature work, although he has depicted a less pretentious subject, and one closer to his own childhood experience, in the colorful, narrative manner of painting for which he was admired.
ARTWORK: Charles Haigh-Wood
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