Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Duval, Charles Allen

DUVAL, CHARLES ALLEN (1808–1872), painter, was born in Ireland in 1808. When a young man he went to Liverpool uncertain whether to turn his attention to art or to literature, but both were for a time cast aside for the rough life of a sailor. This, however, did not long prove attractive, and he settled as an artist in Liverpool, eventually removing to Manchester about 1833, where he continued to reside and practise as a portrait and subject painter till his death at Alderley, Cheshire, on 14 June 1872.

Duval exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1836 to 1872 (twenty pictures) both portraits and subject pictures, and as regularly in the local exhibitions at Liverpool and Manchester. His portraits are good likenesses, and have considerable artistic merit, particularly his chalk studies of children. One of the earliest commissions Duval received was from Mr. Daniel Lee for a portrait of Daniel O'Connell, who would only grant a sitting of two hours and a half; but the artist not only possessed a wonderful facility for catching expression, but also for rapid work, and the result was a characteristic portrait. He had previously painted a picture containing one hundred portraits of the leading Wesleyans in the United Kingdom, who met in Manchester to celebrate the centenary of methodism. Among his best-known productions in this branch of art are likenesses of the chief members of the Anti-Cornlaw League, which were afterwards engraved. He had a large practice in Liverpool and Manchester, and also in London. All his work was marked by great taste and beauty. Throughout his artistic career he never wholly abandoned subject picture painting. One of his first and best known works in this line is ‘The Ruined Gamester.’ It was purchased by a Manchester print-seller named Dewhurst, and engraved, earning for itself so great a popularity that a cartoon in ‘Punch,’ caricaturing Sir Robert Peel, was drawn from it, and an etching from the picture and some clever verses (both by the artist) appeared in the ‘North of England Magazine’ for June 1842. He afterwards exhibited ‘The Giaour,’ 1842, ‘Columbus in Chains,’ 1855, ‘The Dedication of Samuel,’ 1858, ‘The Morning Walk,’ 1861, and many others in local exhibitions. He also painted during his later years some clever sea pieces.

Duval was a witty and accomplished writer. Many papers by him will be found in the pages of the ‘North of England Magazine,’ and in 1863 he published five pamphlets on the struggle then taking place in the United States between the North and South.

[Manchester Examiner and Times, 17 June 1872; Art-Treasures Examiner; personal knowledge.]

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