How long will it take him to propose to me? 1891
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting
fine art painting

Charles Haigh-Wood

English ( b.1856 - d.1927 )

How long will it take him to propose to me? 1891

  • Oil on canvas
  • Signed & dated 1891 lower right

Image size 28.7 inches x 35.8 inches ( 73cm x 91cm )
Frame size 33.9 inches x 40.9 inches ( 86cm x 104cm )


Free Shipping to the UK, USA, Canada & Europe

Enquire about shipping elsewhere

Learn more

Buyer Protection Guarantee

Your purchase will arrive as described.

Find out more

Questions about this piece?

Ask the seller

Available for sale from Big Sky Fine Art in the English county of Dorset, this original oil painting by Charles Haigh-Wood is dated 1891.
The painting is presented and supplied in a sympathetic and complimenting contemporary frame (which is shown in these photographs).
The canvas and painted surface have benefitted from cleaning, restoration and conservation, which was performed on our instruction, supervision and approval.
This antique painting is now in very good condition, commensurate with its age. It wants for nothing and is supplied ready to hang and display.
The painting is signed and dated 1891 lower right.
Provenance: Previously with Cooling Galleries (London) Ltd, 92 New Bond Street, London, W1.

Charles Haigh-Wood was a highly respected painter of historical subjects, portraits and genre. He is also known for being the father-in-law of T.S. Eliot.

Charles was born on 9 May 1856 in his parents’ home above a workshop at Fleet Street, Bury in Lancashire. His father, Charles Wood, was a master craftsman, carver and gilder. His mother, Mary Haigh, was born in Dublin, but brought up in Bury. Charles was the third of six children, one of whom died in infancy.

Young Charles attended Bury Grammar School and Bethel Congregational Sunday School. He had an obvious artistic talent and at 16 his father enrolled him in the Manchester School of Art where he was awarded several prizes, including a Bronze Medal. At 17 Charles left to attend the Royal Academy of Arts in London, where he remained for two or three years, capturing a great deal of attention and subsequently being elected a Member. At some point early in his career he chose to combine his parents’ surnames as Haigh-Wood. Charles went on to travel and study Renaissance masters in Italy for three years before returning to settle in England.

Charles first exhibited in London in 1874, but found real success when he exhibited at the Royal Academy for the first time in 1879. During his lifetime he had a total of 42 works shown there, including “The Harvest Moon 1879, “Chatterboxes” 1889, and “The Old Love and the New” 1901. He also exhibited at the other principal London galleries, including Suffolk Street. In 1917 he was elected Associate of the Royal Society of Painter, Etchers and Engravers.

When Charles first settled in London he resided in Kensington but often returned to visit his family in Bury. In 1886 he married Rose Esther Robinson and they went on to have a daughter, Vivienne, and two sons, Thomas and Maurice. Charles’ parents enjoyed some financial success, both from his father’s commercial endeavours and his mother’s own inheritance. When his parents died Charles inherited the family home and other property which enabled him to move his family to the fashionable area of Hampstead in north London.

Between 1874 and 1904 Charles’ career really flourished. He painted the portraits of many leading political and social figures of his day and several of his works graced the walls of Manchester City Art Gallery and Liverpool’s Walker Gallery. In 1909 a solo exhibition of Haigh-Wood’s work was held at Bury Art Gallery (later known as Bury Art Museum.) He was however best known for painting drawing room “conversation pieces”, or story telling scenes of polite society, which made one of the most popular genre painters of the late 19th century. During his lifetime many of his works were purchased by greeting-card manufacturers for reproduction, which ensured both his financial security and his reputation.

In 1915 Charles’ daughter Vivienne went on to marry T.S. Eliot and they lived in a flat which they shared with Bertram Russell. Their marriage was not a happy one and has been often cited as the inspiration for Eliot’s most noted poem, “The Waste Land”. Charles mixed widely with the social elite of his day, but Eliot described him as “a sweet, simple man, perfectly happy when he is in the country painting and drawing”.

Charles died in Hastings in 1927, leaving a rich legacy of his work. Examples of his painting are often on display at the Guildhall Gallery in the City of London, the Atkinson Art Gallery in Southport, the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum in Birkenhead and Bury Art Museum.

© Big Sky Fine Art

This is a particularly magnificent original painting, known as a “conversation piece”, is full of detail and interest. British artist Charles Haigh-Wood has perfectly captured the elegance and etiquette of a bygone time. It is a large imposing piece which evades a sense of grace and finery in any room in which it is hung. The painting features two young women, quite possibly sisters, sitting by the fireplace in the grand drawing room of what is evidently a substantial home. The young woman on the right has received a letter or proposition, perhaps even a proposal of marriage, and she seeks the guidance of her companion; she has a writing block with paper on her knee and holds a quill pen in her right hand. She asks, “How shall I reply?”. Both women are thoughtful and focused. We understand that this is an important issue, and we are intrigued by the scenario, feeling that we are almost present in the room.

The young women are both wearing long dresses, fashionable in the circles of the upper-class English in the late Victorian period, but highly reminiscent of a much earlier period. This could be a scene from ‘Emma’ by Jane Austin! The furnishings and style of their home suggests this is a family of significant social standing. This is a rare example of such a large painting of this nature in excellent condition.