Charles Towne, sporting artist of Liverpool, was born in 1763. Towne's early years were typical for one of his calling at that time. He was trained as a coach painter, and by the age of 17 was set up in the City as a japanner and decorative painter. Towne also studied landscape and received some instruction from John Rathbone, the 'Manchester Richard Wilson', as he was called. In 1787, Towne exhibited for the first time, with a landscape at the recently founded Liverpool Society for Promoting Painting and Design. Towne also made copies of George Stubbs' two paintings exhibited there, 'Harvesters' and 'Reapers'. By the 1790s, he was becoming an established animal painter with a style based on his study of Stubbs.
Towne was also very interested in the work of the Dutch seventeenth century landscape painters. He combined the realism of Stubbs in the painting of an animal with a panoramic landscape of shimmering atmosphere, painted with a gem-like delicacy. These velvety distances and skies were either romanticised versions of real topography or purely imaginary visions. The lyricism of Towne's setting heightened the solid reality and presence of his animals.
On his first visit to London in 1796, Towne received favourable mention from Joseph Farington, who noted that the artist had 'six months work bespoke'. Towne began exhibiting at the Royal Academy in 1799. Although he spent the first decade of the new century in London, where he was friendly with George Morland and de Loutherbourg, and travelled widely in Line country, Towne's destiny lay in his native city where he settled in 1811. He was elected Vice¬President of the new Liverpool Academy of Artists in 1812 and again the following year, and continued exhibiting there and in Manchester until 1825.
Although Towne is obviously best-known for his paintings of horses, especially hunters, he studied every aspect of rural life and sport, then being eroded by the Industrial Revolution. Commissions to paint cattle, favourite dogs, hunting and shooting scenes, and occasional pieces in the Grand Manner with such titles as 'Tiger growling over her prey', were all carried out with conscientious attention.