Charles Holroyd

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Charles Holroyd in 1896. Drawing by Alphonse Legros.

Sir Charles Holroyd (9 April 1861 – 17 November 1917) was an English artist and curator. He was Keeper of the Tate from 1897 to 1906, and Director of the National Gallery from 1906 to 1916.


Early years[edit]

Charles Holroyd was born in Potternewton, Leeds and studied at Leeds Grammar School then Mining Engineering at Yorkshire College of Science.[1] From 1880 to 1844 received his art education under Professor Legros at the Slade School, University College, London, teaching there from 1885 to 1891.[1]

After passing six months at Newlyn, where he painted his first picture exhibited in the Royal Academy, Fishermen Mending a Sail (1885), he obtained a travelling scholarship and studied for two years in Italy, a sojourn which greatly influenced his art. He met his wife, the artist Fannie Fetherstonhaugh Macpherson, in Rome and they married in 1891.[1]

At his return, on the invitation of Legros, he became for two years assistant-master at the Slade School, and there devoted himself to painting and etching.


Among his pictures may be mentioned The Death of Torrigiano (1886), The Satyr King (1889), The Supper at Emmaus, and, perhaps his best picture, Pan and Peasants (1893).

For the church of Aveley, Essex, he painted a triptych altar-piece, The Adoration of the Shepherds, with wings representing St Michael and St Gabriel, and designed as well the window, The Resurrection. His portraits, such as that of GF Watts, RA, in the Legros manner, show much dignity and distinction.

Holroyd made his chief reputation as an etcher of exceptional ability, combining strength with delicacy, and a profound technical knowledge of the art. Among the best known are the Monte Oliveto series, the Icarus series, the Monte Subasio series, and the Eve series, together with the plates, The Flight into Egypt, The Prodigal Son, A Barn on Tadworth Common (etched in the open air), and The Storm. His etched heads of Professor Legros, Lord Courtney and Night, are admirable alike in knowledge and in likeness. His principal dry-point is The Bather.

In all his work Holroyd displays an impressive sincerity, with a fine sense of composition, and of style, allied to independent and modern feeling. He was appointed the first keeper of the National Gallery of British Art (Tate Gallery) in 1897,[2][3] and on the retirement of Sir Edward Poynter in 1906 he received the directorship of the National Gallery. He was a member of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers[4] and was knighted in 1903.[5] His Michael Angelo Buonarotti (London, Duckworth, 1903) is a scholarly work of real value. He died on 19 November 1917.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Herring, Sarah (30 May 2013) [2004]. "Holroyd, Sir Charles (1861–1917)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ "No. 26884". The London Gazette. 20 August 1897. p. 4677.
  3. ^ "No. 26888". The London Gazette. 3 September 1897. p. 4944.
  4. ^ "The International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers". Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851–1951. Glasgow University. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  5. ^ "No. 27630". The London Gazette. 29 December 1903. p. 8563.
  6. ^ "No. 30551". The London Gazette. 1 March 1918. p. 2659.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Did not exist
Director of the Tate Gallery
Succeeded by
D. S. MacColl