top of page


Charles Burton Barber (British, 1845-1894)

Song Without Words

Oil on lined canvas

Signed and dated lower left "C. Burton Barber, 1885"

Size in inches: 36.75 in x 24.9 in (with frame: 45 h x 33 w)


Price upon request


Charles Burton Barber was born in Great Yarmouth, England in 1845. Considered one of England’s finest genre and animal painters, he achieved great success during his lifetime. By the age of 18, Barber was studying in London at the Academy Schools. In 1864 he obtained a silver medal for drawing from the antique, and by 1866 he exhibited his first work at the Royal Academy while living in Notting Hill. Barber exhibited at the Royal Academy in London thirty-two times between 1866 and 1893. He additionally exhibited at the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, Walker Art Gallery, Manchester City Art Gallery and the Fine Art Society. 


Barber quickly became highly sought after for his subjects of children and dogs as they were attractive to the picture buying public. He had two daughters and a terrier as a family pet, who were often subjects of his artworks. The commercial appeal of this type of artwork made his paintings very popular with dealers, in demand as chromolithographic reproductions, and frequently used for children’s books, greeting cards, and advertising Pears soap.


Queen Victoria often called upon the artist to paint her favourite dogs, such as “Fozzy” the Prince of Wales’s dog. Queen Victoria and Price Albert also commissioned Barber to paint portraits of their many grandchildren with their pets.  In 1894 Queen Victoria commissioned a portrait of herself by Barber in her pony-carriage surrounded by her grandchildren. This commission from Queen Victoria would be Barber’s last, as on November 27, 1894, at the age of 49, Barber died of diabetes at his home at 1 Tichefield Street, Regent’s Park, London. On the day after his death, Queen Victoria sent a telegram to his family giving her condolences and stating that she was “dreadfully shocked” by his death, and that she had planned on sending for him soon. To his funeral, Queen Victoria sent a representative, Mr. Horace West of the Home Office, with a wreath with an inscription that read, “A mark of admiration and regard from Victoria R.I.”


The only contemporary written account about Charles Burton Barber was by his neighbour in Regent’s Park, Harry Furniss, who was an artist and illustrator for media such as Punch magazine and contemporary advertisements. It is interesting that Harry Furniss has a special connection to Vancouver as he enjoyed visiting so much that his family ended up moving to B.C. Furniss emphasized that unlike Landseer, Barber was “never guilty of humanizing his animals.” He continued: “How conscientious he was and how he painted and repainted every detail! Everything required for the picture was bought or made. The wall-paper was selected for a design, and was actually pasted on a panel; the furniture was bought or added, and days and weeks were spent in transferring the design of the paper and the polish on the most modern of chairs to his canvas.”  Furniss concluded: “He was a delightful companion, the gentlest and truest of friends, and the sweetest-natured man that ever held a brush.” (H. Furniss, The Magazine of Art, Charles Burton Barber, London, 1896, p. 18).

Charles Burton Barber (British, 1845-1894) 'Song Without Words' dated 1885



    Phone:  604-736-8825

    Toll Free:  800-730-8825


bottom of page