Charles Francis Bell (1871 - 1966)
Charles Francis Bell (1871–1966) was Keeper of Fine Art (later Western Art) at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, from 1908 to 1931. In this capacity he was able to take advantage of the break-up around 1912 of the collection formed by Girtin’s first patron, James Moore (1762–99), acquiring many of those works for the Ashmolean along with Moore’s antiquarian papers. Working from this material, Bell wrote ‘Fresh Light on Some Water-Colour Painters of the Old British School’, which was published by the Walpole Society in 1917 (Bell, 1915–17). This and a later paper, ‘A Postscript Concerning Dr. Thomas Monro, James Moore, F. S. A., and John Henderson (1764–1843) and Some of the Artists Who Worked for Them’ (Bell, 1938–39), constitute the first scholarly analysis of Girtin’s career as a topographical artist working for the antiquarian market. Bell was also responsible, together with Thomas Girtin (1874–1960), for ‘The Drawings and Sketches of John Robert Cozens’, which made a start on unravelling the complexities of Girtin’s working relationship with Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) at the home of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833) as well as providing a basic catalogue of Cozens’ work (Bell and Girtin, 1935).