Charles Sillem Lidderdale
born 1831- died 1895
Charles Sillem Lidderdale was an artist of promise who exhibited 36 paintings at the Royal Academy from 1856-1893. His career was marred by eyesight trouble which, after lengthy and skilful treatment by Tirgolin Tweedy, the oculist, yielded sufficiently to enable him to continue his work. Unfortunately, he had to give up watercolour, a medium more exacting than oils. But his watercolours, though not numerous, were admired both for their technique and colour. His work, perhaps, was most liked in the Midlands where many of his pictures are in private hands.
A small head of a girl in the Gassiot Collection was destroyed when the Guildhall was bombed in the 'blitz' on London on 10th May, 1941. His portraits were few, those of his Uncle James and his wife, Jane Hannay, were sent to the Scotts, in New Zealand, descendants. Two, in watercolour, of Hester Liddardale, born Ponsford, and her son, Arthur Hector, the painter's sister-in-law and nephew, are in possession of the last named.
Charles Sillem married Kezia, daughter of Edward Morris, of London, and was buried in his mother's grave in Kensal Green Cemetery.
The painter of this picture [A Man and Woman Courting] is an artist who, in the department of genre subjects, is rapidly acquiring a good reputation. He first appeared at the Academy in 1856, when he sent 'A Greenwich Pensioner,' and its companion, 'A Chelsea Pensioner,' with 'A Blind Woman Examining the Features of her Sleeping Child,' the latter, a singularly chosen subject, treated with much feeling and skill. In 1859 we find him making considerable progress over his preceding efforts, in a very pretty little composition entitled ' Happy! '-an infant sprawling on the floor, while an elder sister tickles it with a feather, to the delight of the baby and the amusement of its mother, who stands by. A yet more steady advance was apparent in his two pictures, 'Too Bad' and 'A Wood Carrier,' exhibited in 1863; as well as those of the year following, 'A Girl with a Net,' and 'Counting the Change,' also a young girl, who, returning from market, where she has been selling her eggs or other country produce, seats herself on a stile by the way-side to count over the day's proceeds-both in the gallery of the Academy; and in that of the British Institution, 'Wishing,' 'Bird-keeping,' and 'Looking Seaward.'
With two or three exceptions, the pictures just enumerated, and others not referred to, consist of single figures, painted with great care and felicitous expression, and on comparatively small canvases. But last year Mr. Lidderdale ventured upon a work of somewhat large dimensions, and of higher pretension as a composition; it is that here engraved, by the courtesy of Mr. Morby, its owner, and which was exhibited at the Academy, under the title of 'Matelottes on the Bolonnais Coast waiting for the Boats.' We have chosen to call the picture by another, and, it may be presumed, a more appropriate name; for though the group assembled on the sea- shore may have gone thither to wait the I arrival of the fishing-craft, the point of the composition is evidently in the little bit of open flirtation carried on between the man and the pretty, barefooted girl with whom he is conversing, or, perhaps, joking. It is clear, however, that, whatever subject is under discussion, it is not acceptable to the older female mounted up, high and dry, behind the younger. Her countenance indicates either anger or jealousy, perhaps both; and certainly, if the two stand in any degree of rival ship in a love-match, it is not difficult to see which of them stands the better chance of winning the day. The young woman seated to the right of the picture seems perfectly oblivious to all that is passing; her thoughts are probably occupied on some one of the crews of the expected boats.
The artist has succeeded in giving character to each of his figures; their actions, too, are natural and unconventional; and the whole composition has the aspect of a true scene of French sea-side life. The only incomprehensible part in it is the rough mass of woodwork; it is picturesque enough, but one can scarcely make out what it all means, as it has no form to indicate what it has once been, nor to what purpose, if any, it is to be converted, though the workman's tools and the splinters lying about show that it is undergoing some process or other.