Sir Charles Locke Eastlake PRA (1793-1865)
The painter Charles Eastlake was born in Plymouth, son of the Solicitor to the Admiralty, and studied painting at
the Royal Academy Schools in 1809. He exhibited regularly at the British Institution
from 1814, until 1825, from which time he sent pictures only to the Academy. He lived in Plymouth,
then in Italy for some dozen years, then back in Britain, settled in London. He
became ARA in 1827, RA in 1830, and President of the Royal
Academy in 1850, on the death of his predecessor, Martin Arthur Shee. There
were big events in his time as PRA - the Great
Exhibition in 1851, generally good for the arts and for the Academy; Turner's will,
which in 1856 gave all his remaining paintings to the National Gallery, and 20,000
pounds cash to the Academy; the admission of the first woman to the Drawing and
Painting Schools in 1861; and the Royal Commission into the affairs of the Academy,
at which Eastlake gave evidence for 5 days, and which effectively made the decision
that the Academy should leave the National Gallery.
From 1855, Eastlake was Director of the National Gallery - much later, E. J. Poynter also held both the Directorship and the
office of PRA. He was instrumental in various important acquisitions of mainly Italian
Old Masters, greatly enhancing the prestige of the national collection.
Eastlake's subjects were mainly historical, but his increasing public duties meant that
his output reduced drastically in his later years.
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