Charles Gregory (1849 – 1920) was born in London on the 25thMarch 1849. With his artistic talents apparent from a young age, his parents enrolled him to study at the Royal Academy schools, where he particularly excelled in Watercolour painting. For reasons unknown, Gregory would also spend a few years in Australia as a young man. During his time in the colony, he produced many watercolours of the merchant vessels that plied the coast; he would also work with naturalists to create studies of native birds, many of which had yet to be catalogued. Although Gregory is best known as a landscape painter, his marine and ornithological interests remained throughout his life, and he continued to paint these subjects.
Upon his return to England the artist undertook an ambitious project to produce a large series of landscapes spanning Southern England, the product of constant travelling along the channel coast. Despite his youth in London, the artist always preferred to paint and live away from the city. In 1887, after multiple years of work, Gregory exhibited his show, entitled Summertime on the South Coast from Rye to Penzance at the Dowdeswells Gallery in New Bond Street. The exhibition was clearly a success; in its aftermath Gregory’s works first began to appear at the Royal Academy, where he also began to exhibit larger scale history paintings, during this period he would also become a full member of the Royal Watercolour Society. However, his genre scenes and landscapes would remain his most popular pieces, and in the few years after his debut Gregory would exhibit his works as far away as Melbourne.
Gregory’s work predominantly focuses on rural life in the small villages of Southern England. After his coastal travels, Gregory would settle in Ripley and then Godalming in Surrey, before settling in Marlow. The subject matter provided by these settings proved immensely popular with the Victorian public in a period where rural countryside in the south was rapidly being confined to isolated pockets. While they still carried an air of romanticism, his works were underpinned by technical and observational confidence gleaned from his years working in Australia and studies at the Royal Academy; the combination of genre painting and landscaping lending a unique air to Gregory’s paintings