|CHARLES ERNEST PEERS
|1875 - 1944
Charles Ernest Peers was born in Castlereagh, Belfast, County Down, Northern Ireland, on the 8th August 1875, the son of William Henry and Mary Ann Peers. Charles grew up in Liverpool, where his family had moved when he was a boy. It was here, on the Mersey with its busy shipping, that he starred sketching, but he decided at first to pursue a naval career. He spent two years at the Admiralty Office, but his ambitions of becoming a naval architect were thwarted by the prohibitive cost of training. He retained a fascination with ships and harbour scenes throughout his life.
Meanwhile, Charles Peers devoted more and more time to drawing and watercolour painting, and even spent a short while studying at the Liverpool School of art, where he soon felt that he had little to learn. He emigrated to South Africa in 1904, probably for health reasons (he suffered from asthma), and settled in Cape Town. There, he soon established himself as one of the small band of professional artists and within a year was accepted as a member of the S.A. Society of Artists. He got married in 1908, went to live in Mowbray and settled down to a quiet but productive life, later working as a lithographer for a firm of printers and always keeping up a steady output of paintings and illustrations.
By the 'twenties Charles Peers had firmly established a reputation as the country's finest watercolourist. Though he was not a frequent exhibitor, his works found their way into the homes of many an-lovers. Catering for a broader public were the several books and albums on South African scenery which he illustrated.
In 1938 Charles Peers was called upon to make his greatest contribution to the an life of his adopted country. He was then already in his sixties and new art movements, different from the essentially 19th-century mode of expression in which he himself was steeped, had come to the fore, though they were slow to become accepted by the South African public. It was in that year that some of the more progressive artists of the day, such as Gregoire Boonzaier, Terence McCaw, Florence Zerffi, Freida Lock, Lippy Lipshitz, Walter Battiss, founded the New Group, which was to become the most significant artists' organization in South African art history.
Peers had never been a man of robust health, and his frequent painting excursions, often under adverse conditions, must have taken a heavier toll than he cared to admit. On the 28th of December 1944, not quite seventy years of age, he died in the cottage in Higgo Vale, Cape Town, nestling at the foot of Table Mountain, where he and his wife had been living for some time.
Bouman, A. C.: Painters of South Africa, Cape TownPretoria, 1949.
1875 Born in Castlereagh, Belfast, County Down, Nor
1934 Elected President of the Owl Club.
1945 Featured at New Group exhibition, Cape Town,
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