Dutch Boats off Dordrecht
George Charles Haité (1855-1924)
Oil on board
Dated : '94
Image Dimensions : 10" x 14" (25.4cm x 35.6cm)
Price : £1,750
George Charles Haité Biography
George Charles Haité (8 June 1855 – 31 March 1924) was an English designer, painter, illustrator and writer. His most famous work is the iconic cover design of the Strand Magazine, launched in 1891, which helped popularise the Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle. Haité was also a founder member and the first president of the London Sketch Club.
George Charles Haité was born in Bexleyheath, Kent, on 8 June 1855, the second child and eldest son of George Haité senior. His ancestors were French Huguenot immigrants, an awareness of which seems to have informed his later catchphrase that "art holds no nationality".
His great grandfather, William Haité, and his grandfather, Henry Haité, worked in the calico printing industry centred on the River Cray in Kent. Henry's brother, John, was also a textile designer, samples of whose "Spring Fashions for 1813" are to be found in the archives of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
His father, George Haité (1825–1871), was a prominent early Victorian cashmere shawl designer, albeit sadly so disillusioned with being a "slave of the fashion of the hour" that he actively discouraged his son from following him into the same profession. Ironically, it was his father's premature death of smallpox aged 45 that propelled G.C. to do just that when he found himself head of the household at the age of 16.
Haité would later comment in his own Who's Who entry that he was "absolutely self-taught" in art. After moving to London in the early 1870s he began making a name for himself as a wallpaper and carpet designer, later working in metal, tapestry and stained glass.
In 1883 he exhibited the first of many paintings at the Royal Academy. Haité worked in both oils and watercolours, specialising in landscapes with many executed on his travels to Venice, Morocco and Northern Europe. In 1897 his street scene of Dortmund won the Gold landscape prize at that year's Crystal Palace exhibition. He would usually sign his work "Geo C. Haité" or "G.C. Haité".
According to his friend, the great war correspondent Frederic Villiers: "I never met a man who was so rapid with brush and colours in transferring an impression to his canvas. His memory is so marvellously correct that one may watch him produce, within an hour or so, a sketch of a Dutch market-place with its greyness of atmosphere, a street in Bruges with the architectural beauty of its cathedral and houses, or a suburb in Tangier with its mosques and minarets glowing in the heat against a deep purple sky, as accurate in tone and drawing as if he had been seated in front of his subject."
As Villiers also commented, Haité was "one of the busiest men of his own little stage, for he is a president or fellow of some eight or nine art societies." Indeed, his talents would earn him membership of numerous art societies including the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, the Royal Society of British Artists, the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, the Society of Miniature Painters, the Royal British Colonial Society of Artists, the National Association of House Painters and Decorators of England and Wales and, as president, the Institute of Decorative Designers.
Haité also wrote and lectured on art and design and in 1897 was elected president of the Nicolson Institute art gallery in Staffordshire. His inexhaustible social activities even stretched beyond the visual arts, also involved in the famous literary club the Sette of Odd Volumes (see below), one of the earliest members of the Japan Society of London and, from 1888, a Fellow of the Linnean Society.
In 1886, Haité published Plant Studies for Artists, Designers and Art Students. Though it would be the only book solely written and illustrated by Haité, he edited and contributed drawings to numerous others including naturalist Edward Tickner Edwardes' Side-Lights of Nature in Quill and Crayon and In The Green Leaf and the Sere by the pseudonymous ornithologist "A Son of the Marshes".
In late 1890 he was asked by editor George Newnes to provide the cover pen and ink illustration for his new magazine The Strand, launched in January 1891. As sales of the magazine took off with the first of its Sherlock Holmes stories, beginning with A Scandal in Bohemia in the July 1891 issue, Haité's graphic rendering of London's Strand looking eastwards with the magazine title suspended from telegraph wires was destined to become an icon of late-Victorian publishing.