Sir Charles Lock Eastlake

Biography of Sir Charles Lock Eastlake (1793–1865), artist and first Director of the National Gallery.

Early life

Charles Eastlake was born in Plymouth, the birthplace of other famous painters, notably Sir Joshua Reynolds. He was educated at the local grammar schools of Plymouth and Plympton before briefly attending Charterhouse in London.

Painting career

Early on he determined on a career as an historical painter, studying under the watercolour painter Samuel Prout before going to London to work under the historical painter, Benjamin Haydon and receiving tuition from the Royal Academy schools in 1809.

His first success came with his painting of Napoleon, during the latter’s captivity on the 'Belleraphon' when the ship was moored off Plymouth Sound. A second larger version of this portrait was bought by five gentlemen from Plymouth, and the proceeds, together with the patronage of the banker Jeremiah Harman, allowed Eastlake to travel abroad to study the Old Masters.

Travel and friendships

After two brief trips to France in 1814 and 1815, Eastlake went to Rome in 1816 where he settled for the next 14 years. He continued to travel widely, for instance touring Greece in 1818 and Northern Europe in 1828. His friendships with Italian and German artists, philosophers and writers influenced his practice as an artist and his ideas about the theory of art. He became close friends with J.M.W. Turner and the portrait artist Sir Thomas Lawrence who encouraged Eastlake to brighten his palette.

Next: Success as an artist

Selected acquisitions

Portrait of a Young Man
Portrait of a Young Man
Moretto da Brescia
The Tailor ('Il Tagliapanni')
The Tailor ('Il Tagliapanni')
Giovanni Battista Moroni
The Annunciation
The Annunciation
Fra Filippo Lippi
A Woman
A Woman
Robert Campin
The Magdalen Reading
The Magdalen Reading
Rogier van der Weyden
The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian
The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian
Antonio del Pollaiuolo and Piero del Pollaiuolo
The Virgin and Child with Two Angels
The Virgin and Child with Two Angels
Andrea del Verrocchio and assistant ( Lorenzo di Credi )
The Entombment
The Entombment
Dirk Bouts
The Baptism of Christ
The Baptism of Christ
Piero della Francesca
 
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