Chatfield, Edward (DNB00)

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CHATFIELD, EDWARD (1800–1839), painter, belonged to an old English family, and was son of John Chattield, a distiller at Croydon, and Anne Humfrey, his wife. Ile was originally destined for the East India House; but havin an innate predilection for art,and there Eein no immediate prospect offered in a distasteful business, he decided to attempt to earn his livin as a painter. In April 1818 he visited the exhibition at Spring Gardens, and there for the first time encountered Benjamin Robert Haydon, in whom he was already deeply interested, and who was destined to have an overmastering influence on his life. Through Elmes, the editor of ‘Annals of the Fine Arts,’ he obtained an introduction to Haydon, was warmly received, and shortly afterwards became a pupil in his studio, where he found the Landseers, William Bewick, Lance, Christmas, and others already working. Under Haydon’s teaching he went through a full course of practical anatomy, and was occupied in close study, both in practice and theory, of the Elgin marbles (then recently acquired) and the works of Raphael, especialy the cartoons. In Haydon's guidance he trusted and believed; and while working under his influence he combined the patience of a literary st udent. with enthusiastic energy of execution. Nature was his ideal, the old masters—Phidias, Raphael, Michael Angelo, Rubens, &c.—the objects of his reverence. He commenced his artistic career with some portrait studies. In 1821 he started upon his first ambitious picture, ‘Moses viewing the Promised Land. This was exhibited in January 1823 at the British Galle, and was received with approbation from flie public, besides warm commendation on the part of Haydon. Chatfield, however, at this point in his career sustained a rude shock; for in June 1823 Haiydon was arrested for debt, and his effects sold. Some of his pupils had put their names to bills at his request, and suffered considerable pecuniary loss. Chatfield was among the number, but was fortunately able to provide the amount due, and, though impoverished and stranded on the world by Haydon's improvidence, did not grudge it, as he felt how great a debt he was under to his master, whose instruction had always been given gratis. From this point Chatfield was thrown on his own resources, and was compelled to supplement his slender income by portrait-painting. Among his sitters were several members of the Russell family, and he painted a large family group of the Campbells of Islay at an otter hunt, which he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1834. He did not, however, neglect historical painting, the branch of art to which his education and all his energies had been directed. He exhibited at the Royal Academy, in 1833, 'The Death of Locke,' a picture of great pathos, and very favourably criticised. In 1836 he attempted an ambitious subject, 'The Battle of Killiecrankie.' This picture represents a fight between mounted dragoons and two highlanders. The latter are stripped to the waist, and of extreme muscular development; one has fallen, but the other with a tremendous grip is dragging down a dragoon from his saddle, and raises his right arm in the act of dealing a deathblow. This picture, which excited much attention at the time, was subsequently sold at Liverpool for 45l. In 1837 he exhibited 'Ophelia,' but his health, which had never been strong, had then begun to fail him. After a lingering illness he died, on 22 Jan. 1839, at 66 Judd Street, Brunswick Square, the house of his friend, Mr. Orrin Smith, the wood engraver, with whom he had resided for some years, and whose family he had frequently portrayed. He was buried in Norwood cemetery. Chatfield was possessed of considerable literary powers, and contributed articles to 'Blackwood's Magazine,' the 'New Monthly Magazine,' Elmes's 'Annals of the Fine Arts,' &c., usually under the signature of 'Echion.' At the time of his death he was engaged on a large picture of 'Soldiers' Wives drawing Lots for Embarkation with their Husbands.' This picture, now in the possession of Mr. C. H. Compton at Clapham, shows great skill of composition, and gives much promise of what he might have attained to had he lived long enough to do justice to the powers which he undoubtedly possessed. Among other pictures from his hand were 'Penelope's Grief over the Bow of Ulysses' (exhibited 1824), 'La Petite Espiègle' (1825), and 'Deep thought oft seemed to fix his youthful eye' (1838).

[Redgrave's Dictionary of Artists; Graves's Dictionary of Artists, 1760-1880; Elmes's Annals of the Fine Arts; Arnold's Magazine of the Fine Arts; Gent. Mag. (new ser.), xi. 438; Taylor's Life of Haydon; Examiner, 27 Jan. 1839; Courier, 23 Jan. 1839; Morning Advertiser, 2 May 1820; Royal Academy, &c., Catalogues; manuscript diary and other information communicated by C. H. Compton.]

L. C.