Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ryley, Charles Reuben

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RYLEY or RILEY, CHARLES REUBEN (1752?–1798), painter, son of a trooper in the horse-guards, was born in London about 1752. He was of weakly constitution and deformed in figure. He showed an early taste for art, and at first studied engraving, for which he received a premium in 1767 from the Society of Arts. Afterwards he took to painting and became a pupil of John Hamilton Mortimer, R.A. [q. v.] and a student of the Royal Academy, where he obtained a gold medal in 1778 for a painting of ‘Orestes on the point of being sacrificed by Iphigenia.’ This picture he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1779, from which date he was a constant exhibitor of drawings and small pictures, mostly in the style of his master, Mortimer. Indifferent health prevented him from making much progress in his art, and he was compelled to fall back upon working for booksellers and teaching in schools. He was employed on decorative paintings by the Duke of Richmond at Goodwood, Mr. Willett at Merly, Mr. Conolly in Ireland, and elsewhere. After beginning life with strict methodist views, Ryley fell into irregular habits, which, acting on his enfeebled constitution, brought about his death on 13 Oct. 1798, at his house in what was then the New Road, Marylebone. Some of his works have been engraved.

[Edwards's Anecdotes of Painting; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760–1893.]

L. C.