Today’s artist, Charles Joshua Chaplin, has very little written about him that is easily available online. This makes him a mystery, and that is a shame considering the quality of his work.
I’m showing two images of Chaplin’s work today, the first is called, “Young Girl with Bouquet“. The painting is interesting because it seems to give a hint of Chaplin’s life. The alternate title of this painting is, “Daughter of the Painter”. I like this painting because it seems so real – it doesn’t seem as if it were posed.
Charles Chaplin… an aside here. There is more than one painter named “Charles Chaplin”, and as far as I know, the very famous comedian Charlie Chaplin was never a painter. Charles Joshua Chaplin (1825-1891) was born in Normandy, France. His father was English and his mother French, so Chaplin wasn’t a French citizen. Nevertheless, he lived in France all his life, and was naturalized 5 years before his death.
From the best biography I could find of Chaplin, at the Antiques and Fine Art website:
Chaplin began is formal studies in 1840 at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts as a student of Michel-Martin Drolling [the younger] (1786-1851). Upon finishing his studies, he had developed into an accomplished painter, pastellist, etcher and lithographer. Charles debuted at the Salon of 1845 with a portrait of a young woman. This painting brought attention to Chaplin’s ability to paint magical portraits of women and children and would crystallize his career making him one of Frances most famous painters.
Starting in 1847, Chaplin would become a regular exhibitor at the Paris Salons and at the Royal Academy in London. Besides his portraits of young women and children, he also exhibited landscapes and animal portraits.
Many of Chaplin’s paintings are considered very erotic. He often painted very provocative portraits of women wearing transparent clothing. In fact, “Aurora” which he presented to the Salon jury of 1859 was refused as scandalous and the Count de Nieuwerkerke, superintendent of the fine arts under Napoleon III, imposed an exhibition prohibition for this painting. But Napoleon III would abolish this prohibition order.
Charles Chaplin became Paris’ most popular fashion painter. He was also Napoleon and l’imperatrice Eugene’s favorite court painters during the 1860’s. Charles Chaplin was also a teacher at his own atelier, which was reserved for women only. His most noted students were Norwegian artist Marie Helene Aarestrup (1826-?), Louise Abbema (1858-1927) and Mary Cassatt (1855-1926).
Charles Chaplin was awarded medals at the Salons throughout the course of his career. In 1878, he was elected to Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur and he became an officer in the Legion 1881.
It’s a tantalizing biography isn’t it? His art is displayed in collections around the world, but as for biographies – they seem to be very sparse in quantity and detail. At least where I can get to them. Perhaps if I were a professional art collector I’d be able to find out much more.
Chaplin’s art was considered to be erotic. I’m going to show one work that might be considered sensual today – “Girl with a Nest“. This work just jumps out at me, again because it doesn’t seem posed, but also because the tilt of her lips makes me think she’s on the edge of laughter. It touches my heart and makes me feel both protective and eager to share her joy.
As always, click on the paintings to see them in full.