Mobile menu

Charles Eastlake (1793–1865)

Sir Charles Eastlake was a painter who studied with Benjamin Robert Haydon. He exerted greater influence as a scholar and in high-level art administration, however, serving as the President of the Royal Academy for 15 years, the first Director of the National Gallery and the first President of the Photographic Society. Eastlake had been known to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert since 1841, when he acted as secretary to the Royal Commission on Fine Arts (convened to oversee the decoration of the newly-rebuilt Houses of Parliament).

In 1849 Eastlake married Elizabeth Rigby. He was knighted by Queen Victoria on 13 November 1850. Eastlake went on to work closely with Prince Albert on the realisation of the Great Exhibition in 1851. The Photographic Society was formed on 20 January 1853. Five months after its founding, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert became Patrons of the Society. Eastlake's wife, an author and art critic, published the ground-breaking article Photography  in 1857, which was one of the first histories of the medium and championed photography as a fine art.