A Family of Artists

This is Fred Barnard, a noted Victorian illustrator for Charles Dickens.  He is a relation on my mother’s side.

Frederick was an excellent professional artist.  For fun, he liked to paint his family and their beloved dog, Conis, whose resemblance to BeAnne is positively scary and very accurate.  I think he has captured the resentful terrier sulk beautifully.  I know that face well.

Fred had a son, Geoff, who was also a brilliant artist too.

Mum has some of Geoff’s work hanging in the house.

I was hunting about the house for family things to look at and found this portfolio.

Sadly, it did not contain Fred Barnard’s original etchings for Charles Dickens’ novels (they would be worth a few bob) but it did have some of his letters and sketches.

Fred also worked for the Illustrated London News and Punch.

His letters, often illustrated, were wonderful to read, if difficult – sometimes writing twice in different directions on the same piece of paper!

Mum and I spent a happy morning looking through the portfolio.  Philip Boyd is my great great grand-father, I think.

Geoff, Fred’s beloved son, died of a congenital heart defect when he was in his early 20’s and so Fred left his wife to live in a  bedsit in Wimbledon.  He took up laudanum to dull the pain and the misery of his loss.  One night his pipe caught the bedclothes alight and Fred was burnt to death.  He was 50 years old.

A tragic tale.

5 thoughts on “A Family of Artists

  1. Louise Stopford

    What a truly wonderful artist Fred was. The paintings in your Mum’s house of the dogs are exceptional. I love delving into family history (any kind of history I find fascinating). What a sad story though for two very gifted people.

    Reply

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