Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wild, Charles

WILD, CHARLES (1781–1835), water-colour artist, was born in London in 1781, and applied himself specially to architectural subjects from the beginning of his career. In early youth he was articled to Thomas Malton (1748–1804) [q. v.] In 1803 he began to exhibit in the Royal Academy with two views of Christ Church, Oxford, followed in 1805 by drawings of Westminster Abbey, and in 1808 of York Cathedral. On 15 Feb. 1809 he was elected an associate of the ‘Old Watercolour’ Society, becoming a full member on 8 June 1812. He soon gave up his membership of the society, but was re-elected on 12 Feb. 1821, being made treasurer in 1822 and secretary in 1827; the latter post he transferred to Robert Hills in the same year. The names of his various published works indicate the general nature of his subjects, though the illustrations, being mostly in outline, give no indication of his powers as a colourist. The illustrations which he supplied for Pyne's ‘Royal Residences’ (published 1819) were, however, reproduced in colour after the style of Ackermann's ‘Microcosm.’ The originals were among his earliest exhibited works.

His six series of works on the English cathedrals were published as follows; ‘Canterbury,’ 1807; ‘York,’ 1809; ‘Chester,’ 1813; ‘Lichfield,’ 1813; ‘Lincoln,’ 1819; and ‘Worcester,’ 1823.

His travels on the continent resulted in his ‘Examples of the Ecclesiastical Architecture of the Middle Ages chiefly in France,’ and in a volume, published in 1833, of sketches in Belgium, Germany, and France. A miscellaneous collection, entitled ‘Twelve Beautiful Specimens, from the Cathedrals of England,’ bears no date. ‘Architectural Grandeur’ appeared in 1837, and consists of continental sketches ‘etched by John le Keux and others under the direction’ of Charles Wild between 1827, when his sight began to fail, and 1832, when he became blind.

Wild died on 4 Aug. 1835 at 35 Albemarle Street, Piccadilly, where he had lived since 1820, leaving, besides other issue, James William Wild [q. v.]

[Roget's ‘Old Watercolour’ Society, 1891, passim; Redgrave's Dictionary; Bryan's Dict. of Painters and Engravers; Gent. Mag. 1835, ii. 441.]

P. W.