Barber, Charles Burton

The Birthplace of Charles Burton Barber RA, Victorian Artist, 16 Hall Quay, Great Yarmouth

Charles Burton Barber (1845-1894) was an English painter, who attained great success with his paintings of children and their pets. 

Barber was born in Great Yarmouth in 1845 on Hall Quay.  The 1851 census confirms that he was living on the Quay, where his father was a printer, bookseller and painter.  Barber studied from the age of 18 years at the Royal Academy in London.  He received a silver medal for drawing in 1864.  He first exhibited at the Academy in 1866.  By 1881, he was living in Marylebone in London and was married with two daughters. 

During his lifetime Barber was regarded as one of England’s finest animal painters and he received commissions from Queen Victoria to paint her with her grandchildren and dogs, and also the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) and his pets.  A number of Barber’s portraits are in the Royal Collection.  He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1866 to 1893. In 1883, he was elected a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters.  Barber became a very popular sporting and animal painter, specialising particularly in sentimental portraits of dogs, often with children.  Although some have regarded his work as sentimental, his work remains popular, largely because of his competent painting technique. 

His paintings are now to be seen on notelets, trinkets, greeting cards, tee-shirts etc.  In the Victorian age his pictures were used for advertising products, especially by Lever Brothers for soap etc.   Charles Burton Barber painted John Brown, at Queen Victoria’s request, as a gift from the Queen to Mr. Brown, on Brown’s birthday in 1876. 

Barber received his final commission in 1894 to paint Queen Victoria, with her grandchildren in her pony carriage.  He died in London soon afterwards.  Many portraits of dogs by Barber are in the Royal Collection.  Barber died in 1894 at the age of 49 years.  Queen Victoria sent a representative and a wreath to his funeral, which stated: a mark of admiration and regard from Victoria Rl.  His obituary was headlined ‘Death of a famous Yarmouth Artist’.  It continued: 'Queen Victoria was one of Mr. Barber's best patrons.  He painted hundreds of pictures for her and had many interviews with Queen Victoria'. Barber often went to Windsor Castle or Osborne House and Victoria often came in the room where he was painting and had long talks with him.  She had a great knowledge of dogs and how to pose them.

Marco on the Queen's Breakfast Table by Charles Burton Barber.