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Charles S. Raleigh

Charles Sidney Raleigh was a British maritime painter who started his life surrounded by the sea and ships. Born in Gloucester, England in 1831, Raleigh left home at the age of ten to become a sailor and sea merchant. After thirty years of living at sea, he returned to marry in 1870 and settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts where he became a house painter and decorator to supplement his paintings. He relocated in 1881 to Bourne, Massachusetts to continue with his domestic decorating but also began painting carriages and church interiors. Though he was self-taught, Charles Raleigh gained enough prestige to earn the commission to design the official seals of the city of Bourne and the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Before his death in the spring of 1925, he produced over eleven hundred paintings in his lifetime with over half consisting of whaling vessels. The rest of his paintings consisted of other animals, still lifes and the occasional portrait. Raleigh’s style varied depending on what scene he was creating. His boating pictures were more precise and polished whereas his animal scenes were created with broader, more simplified strokes. This originality may have been due to his lack of a formal education which may have been to his benefit.