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Charles William Dowdeswell, 1832-1915

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1832
Place of Death: 10 Langley Avenue, 'Brantwood', Surbiton, Surrey


Charles William Dowdeswell was an English art dealer. He had two sons called Charles and Walter and a daughter called Eleanor.


In 1865 Dowdeswell had a framemakers and print shop at 36 Chancery Lane, London, and in 1878 he opened a gallery at 133 New Bond Street. Later he moved to 160 New Bond Street. His son Walter, who had worked with him at the gallery, left in 1912 to work with the London dealer Joseph Duveen. Dowdeswell's library was sold on 6 February 1912 and the gallery liquidated.

Dowdeswell published prints by artists such as Felix Braquemond, Jules Jacquemart, Charles Méryon, Seymour Haden and Whistler. In 1886 he published A Set of Twenty-six Etchings (the 'Second Venice Set') for Whistler.

A large number of Whistler paintings also passed through Dowdeswell's hands, including Arrangement in Flesh Colour and Grey: The Chinese Screen y051, Nocturne: The Solent y071, Arrangement in Yellow and Grey: Effie Deans y183. At Whistler's bankruptcy in 1879 Dowdeswell bought The Gold Scab y208, a satirical portrait of F. R. Leyland, for twelve guineas.

In May 1884 Whistler held a one man show, 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', at Dowdeswell's gallery at 133 New Bond Street. There were 61 oils, watercolours and pastels on view. Whistler designed the catalogue and the decoration, calling it an Arrangement in Fleshcolour and Grey. Although the exhibition was not a financial success, Dowdeswell held a second show, An Arrangement in Brown and Gold, this time with 75 works on display, in May 1886.

Dowdeswell and Whistler were in correspondence from 1881 to 1892.


Lugt, Frits, Les marques de collections de dessins et d'estampes: marques estampillèes et écrites de collections particulières et publiques; marques de marchands, de monteurs et d'imprimeurs; etc..., Amsterdam, 1921, nos. 690; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995; 'C. William Dowdeswell', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 24 April 2002).