Rossiter, Charles (1827-1897)

Rossiter, Charles (1827-1897)

Charles Rossiter was a popular British painter of genre subjects.

Looking back across the rich and varied tapestry of Rossiter’s oeuvre, one gets the impression that he was a buoyant character, excited by his role as an artist. His scenes span over four hundred years of history, from the Tudor period to the present day. Each rendered with a sense of verve, an underlying spirit, visible through colour, line and atmosphere.

He trained at the esteemed ‘Leigh’s Academy’ in London, an art school run by the progressive figure painter, James Matthew Leigh (1808-60). Leigh’s was fundamentally different as students were encouraged to experiment - with less emphasis placed upon copying the old masters and more on working from life. Small study groups were formed whereby students discussed each other’s approach, thus learning collectively and somewhat more organically. Several of the Victorian elite undertook their training at Leigh’s (later known as Heatherley School of Fine Art) including Sir Frederic Leighton, Sir John Millais, Sir Edward Burne-Jones, and Edwin Long.

Galvanised by these experiences, Rossiter soon developed a strong reputation for figure painting and, in 1852, debuted at the Royal Academy. His style during the early part of his career borrows a little from the vivacious colouring of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Also from those on the fringes of this movement, such as Ford Madox Brown (1821-1893). Indeed, Rossiter’s iconic work ‘To Brighton and Back for 3s 6d’, sits relatively well alongside Madox Brown’s ‘The Last of England’. Both are detailed with each character conveying emotion - and more akin to a group portrait than a typical genre painting.

In 1860, he married the artist, Frances Fripp Seares, who he possibly met during his time at Leigh’s. The pair would remain in London for the next ten years or so and raise five children.

Reaching middle age, with his reputation well established, Rossiter took the position of ‘Art Master’ at Uppingham School in Rutland. He tackled it enthusiastically and undertook to re-decorate the interior with Pre-Raphaelite-inspired murals, stained glass and oil paintings. Quite an environment for budding artists and one to stir the imagination. He worked at Uppingham for the next 24 years and was remembered fondly by his past students. An obituary referred to his “kindly disposition”.

Charles Rossiter is represented at the V&A Museum in London and The Met Museum in New York.


Royal Academy, Royal Society of British Artists, Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, Manchester City Art Gallery, British Institution, The Dudley Gallery.

Public Collections

V&A Museum, The Met Museum, Birmingham Museums Trust, Atkinson Art Gallery Collection.



Born in St Martins, Middlesex, to James Rossiter and Ann Rossiter.


Lived in Westminster, London, with his parents and siblings.

C. 1845

Enrolled at Leigh’s Academy, London.

Undertook classes at Royal Academy Schools.


Lived in St Pancras, London, with his mother and siblings. Occupation recorded as ‘Portrait Painter’.


Debuted at the Royal Academy with ‘Lavinia’. He exhibited 39 works between 1852 and 1890.


Lived in Hampstead, London.


Debuted at the Royal Society of British Artists with ‘An Oracle’. He exhibited 38 works between 1856 and 1881.
Lived in Kentish Town, London.


Lived in Hampstead, London.


Married the artist Frances Fripp Seares.


Lived in Hampstead, London with his wife, mother and sister. Occupation recorded as ‘Artist (Painter)’.


Lived at Maldon Road, London.


Lived in Haverstock Hill, London.


Lived in St John’s Wood, London.


Employed as the Art Master at Uppingham School, Rutland.


Lived in Uppingham, Rutland.


Lived in Uppingham, Rutland, with his wife and five children. Occupation recorded as ‘Artist Painter And Art Master’.


Designed the Tercentenary window at Uppington School.


Lived in Uppingham, Rutland, with his wife, three children and a servant. Occupation recorded as ‘Art Master’. His daughter Frances had her occupation recorded as ‘Art Mistress’ so perhaps she worked with her father at Uppingham School.



Obituary - Westminster Gazette

“A Popular Dominie

Many old Uppingham boys will hear with regret of the death of Mr. Charles Rossiter, the drawing and art master for a quarter of a century. He was the artist who designed the Tercentenary window of the schoolroom in 1885, and was greatly interested in the stage-making for the Greek play of ‘Alcestis,’ which was performed in 1892. With the aid of Miss Rossiter, he designed the magnificent costumes then used. It will, however, be for his kindly disposition and interest in amusements of all kinds that Mr. Rossiter will best be remembered. He had the entire confidence of Mr. Thring and his successor, while with the boys and townsmen alike he was a general favourite.”

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