Mary Charlotte Greene Biography

Mary Charlotte Greene




Painter Mary Charlotte Greene was born in Takeley, Essex, England, in 1860, to a prosperous brewery owner. Due to poor health, she was taught at home in early childhood, and after the family moved to Beford, she attended the Moravian School for Girls. This eventually led to her interest in painting; however, it appears that this was discouraged by her father for it wasn't until after his death that she was allowed to attemd a the St. John's Wood preporatory school in London, which prepared her for the Royal Academy in London. However, a change of Keepers at the Academy proved detrimental to her experience there, prompting her to leave before she'd completed her four years and turn her sights instead to Paris. There, she attended the Academie Colarossi with her sister, Helen, and found support from peers and teachers alike. 

In 1894 Greene's mother and sisters moved into the newly purchased family home, Harston House, near Cambridge, at the request of her brother. In search of inspiration and to keep up her practice, she began teaching art to local children once a week at the Old Vicarage in Grantchester. This led to local interest in her paintings and in the late 1890s she began exhibiting drawings and watercolors. She became a member of the Cambridge Drawing Society (1894-1929), and would later serve as its president (1926-29). After a series of moves, Greene established a studio behind Harston House and built out the property to accomodate a personal work space as well as a teaching space. Additionally, in 1912, Greene opened a weaving school, headed by Swedish weaver Nina Lindell, which saw great success. 

Greene's works became almost exclusively of the Cambridge area, including Coe Fen, whose untamed landscape was saved for preservation partially owing to her encouragement. She continued to teach art to children, including the granddaughter of Charles Darwin, Gwen Ravarat, who would become a respected English woodengraver. 

Eventually ill health left Mary mostly deaf and blind in one eye. After her family left or was unable to care for Hartson House, it was left to Mary to care for it, and she eventually gave up her studio. However, she continued to paint and in 1936 she was offered her first major exhibition, titled "London Then and Now", which found success in the London collector's scene. Greene worked up until her death on December 17, 1951.