“the doyen of deaf artists”, Charles Webb Moore 1848-1933
By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 3 July 2015
Charles Webb Moore (1848-1933) was the son of a deaf lithographer, Isaac Moore. His mother and all his siblings were deaf. In fact, there were I understand, five generations of the Moore family who were Deaf. Many of them were skilled artisans like Charles and his father.
According to his obituary (Ephphatha, 1933) Charles was born on the 7th of April 1848, in Camden Town, and was educated at the Old Kent Road Asylum. After training as a wood engraver, he worked for, among other periodicals, The Graphic, and the Illustrated London News, and won a silver medal at ‘the Deaf Mutes Exhibition held in London in 1885’ (I have been unable to discover more about that – if you know leave a comment below). It seems that he painted portraits of many people associated with St. Saviour’s Church, including the Rev. Samuel Smith, Dr. Stainer, Dr. Elliott, Mr. Sleight, and Sir Arthur Fairbairn. We wonder whether these paintings survive, and if so, where they are now?
Charles married a Deaf lady, Emily Eliza Kemrik (sometimes written as Kamerick). They were married in St. May’s Paddington by the Rev. Mr. Churchill, and the service was interpreted in sign language by the Rev. Samuel Smith.
In 1924, A.J. Wilson, himself a skilled engraver (I have come across at least one engraving by him of a Thomas Davidson picture), called Moore, “the doyen of deaf artists”.
Wilson explains how it was the technical advances in printing, which made the job of the woodcut artist “more precarious”.
“Curiosity” is reproduced by photo-process from a large woodcut which he both drew and engraved. “The Mermaid” is processed from one of Mr. Moore’s oil paintings. These two printing blocks illustrate the advance that has been made in the art of process engraving, because one – “Curiosity” – was reproduced from a line engraving on wood, and when we came to reproduce it by half-tone process the lines were broken up into dots. The other – “The Mermaid” – was photographed direct from the oil painting, yet the various colours of the original have been transformed into black and white by means of an “orthochromatic” plate so that the values are preserved.
The description under “Curiosity” says it was drawn for The Boy’s Own Paper.
Emily and Charles had four sons and one daughter. The middle son, William Webb Moore, was a recipient of the Belgian Order of Chevalier de la Couronne and the French Croix de Guerre, and sadly died in the Great War on the 12th of June 1918.
If we discover any more about Charles Moore and his family we will update this page!
Very acute readers of this blog will know that Moore has already had a picture featured on this site – he was the artist who depicted his friend Thomas Davidson.
A Magazine Intended Chiefly for the Deaf and Dumb, 1878, No. 69, Vol. 6, p. 144
Deaf Artists, The Silent World, A Little Magazine Written by the Deaf for the Deaf, New Series, November 1924, No. 2 p.34-5