Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Detmold, Charles Maurice

1503095Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement, Volume 1 — Detmold, Charles Maurice1912Campbell Dodgson

DETMOLD, CHARLES MAURICE (1883–1908), animal painter and etcher, son of Edward Detmold, electrical engineer, by his wife Mary Agnes Luck, was born at Putney on 21 Nov. 1883. Together with his twin brother, Edward Julius, who shared in every stage of his artistic development, he was distinguished by extreme precocity. The two began as children, living at Hampstead, to draw and study animals in the Zoological Gardens and Natural History Museum, and they exhibited at the Royal Academy while still in their fourteenth year. On the advice of Burne-Jones they were not sent to any art school. They were profoundly influenced by Japanese art, and developed a style in which a searching study of natural forms, especially of the plumage of birds, was always subordinated to decorative arrangement. In 1897 both brothers began to etch, and in 1898 had made sufficient progress to issue jointly a portfolio of eight etchings of birds and animals. In 1899 a volume of coloured reproductions of their drawings was published by Dent under the title 'Pictures from Birdland.' In the same year appeared the first of a series of etchings executed jointly by the two brothers, each working on the same plate, which continued at intervals till 1906. Maurice produced in all ten etchings and two woodcuts in collaboration with Edward, and twenty-five etchings executed entirely by himself, though in part from drawings by his brother. Many of the brothers' etchings are immature, but the technical ability displayed in the best of them, especially in the latest of the joint works, is very remarkable. In 1900 the Detmolds held an exhibition of their prints and water-colours at the Fine Art Society's galleries. In 1904 they contributed a joint etching to 'The Artist Engraver,' and on 12 Jan. 1905 they were elected associates of the Royal Society of Painter Etchers; they contributed some of their best work to the 1905 exhibition, but afterwards resigned their membership; two plates produced late in that year were Maurice's last etched works. Jointly with his brother he painted large illustrations in water-colour to Rudyard Kipling's 'Jungle Book,' which were published in 1903. For several years the two Detmolds, who continued to reside at Hampstead, spent part of the year at Ditchling, Sussex. On 9 April 1908, when about to leave Hampstead for the country, Maurice committed suicide by inhaling chloroform; his twin brother survives him.

[M. H. Spielmann in Mag. of Art, Jan. 1900 (portrait); A. Graves, Royal Acad. Exhibitors; Cat. of Royal Soc. of Painter Etchers, 1905; The Times, 14 April 1908; art. by C. Dodgson in Die Graphischen Künste, Vienna, 1910, xxxiii. 16, with complete catalogue of the etchings; private information.]

C. D.