Charles Bartlett

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Charles William Bartlett, was an English painter and printmaker. Having exhibited considerable interest in the field of metallurgy, at age 23 he enrolled in the Royal Academy in London, where he studied painting and etching. After three years of study in London, he entered the private studio school Académie Julian in Paris.

In 1889, he returned to England and married Emily Tate, only to lose both his wife and infant son in childbirth. Bartlett then traveled to Europe, spending several productive years in Holland, Brittany and Venice with his friend and fellow artist Frank Brangwyn. (1867–1956). Brangwyn is believed to have introduced Bartlett to Japanese prints. In 1897, he was invited to join the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in France.

Very shortly thereafter, he returned to England and married Catherine “Kate” Main. During this time, he exhibited several oil paintings at prestigious galleries, including the Royal Academy and the Salon des Beaux Arts. He also had the opportunity to create many etchings which allowed his name to flourish.

His new wife came from a very wealthy family and in 1913, the Bartletts decided to spend some time traveling. After spending time in India, Ceylon, Indonesia and China, they arrived in Japan in 1915, where he met woodblock print publisher Watanabe Shozaburo (1885–1962), who was a major force in early 20th century Japanese art. In 1916 Watanabe published 21 woodblocks from Bartlett’s designs, including six prints of Japanese landscapes.

In 1917, Charles and his wife left Japan for England, but after stopping in Hawaii for a brief visit, fell in love with the islands, decided to stay and never returned to England.

The Bartlett couple became very active in Honolulu, both artistically and socially. His prints became very popular and he wound up being commissioned by several of the more wealthy Hawaiian families to do portraits.

Anna Rice Cooke, who founded the Honolulu Academy of Arts, became Bartlett’s advocate and patron. In 1928, Bartlett helped to found the Honolulu Printmakers along with local artists Alexander Samuel MacLeod, John Melville Kelly, and Huc-Mazelet Luquiens.

In 1939, the Honolulu Academy held a major exhibition of Bartlett's work with 63 paintings and prints. Bartlett died the following year at the age of eighty. After Bartlett's death, the remaining blocks for his prints were scored to prevent reprinting.

Charles Bartlett died in Hawaii in April of 1940, twenty months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.