Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue
Charles Samuel Keene (1823-1891), Illustrator and etcher
Bohemian and unmarried, he occupied a series of dilapidated studios, ‘all through his life … very much at peace with dust and cobwebs’;  frugal and a heavy smoker, he played the guitar and – infamously – the bagpipes:
[Keene] dressed and did many things quite differently from other people, studying his own ideas and ideals of comfort and expenditure, regardless of convention. Rarely without his bagpipes and a pocket full of flints, he was never without a little old clay pipe in his mouth. Many of these were Cromwellian clays or those that had been buried during the Great Plague. Into these pipes he stuffed his dottles, little plugs of tobacco saturated with nicotine and then dried. These he always lighted with tinder and flint. 
Keene’s appearance in 1862:
He was then in the noon of life and full of vigour. He was tall, and walked with a stalwart step. He had a finely-formed head, covered with a crop of short jet-black curly hair. His face, if not classical, was striking. His eyebrows were thick and black, and his eyes were open, grey and luminous. 
In later life:
He was without exception the most delightful and quaintly humorous personality I have ever met. I can see him now, in his grotesque little jacket, which looked as though he had made it himself, very short about the hips and innocent of any attempt at fit, hanging in picturesque but distinctly untailorlike folds about his meagre person; his flannel shirt very limp about the collar and cuffs, and his ancient slippers, in which he would shuffle about the house and garden in company with the most constant of his attendants – his pipe. At meal-times he would keep the table in a perpetual bubbling of mirth. His own laugh, though it broke out but rarely, was a thing to wonder at: a silent, hilarious chuckle, which doubled him up in ecstasy at some joke or remembrance […] In spite, however, of his humour, there was something pathetic about Keene, with his poor old frayed coat and down-trodden slippers, his long lean neck, and cadaverous, strongly-marked face. 
Footnotesback to top
1) Layard 1892, p.16.
2) Emmanuel 1939, p.16.
3) Layard 1892, pp.123–4.
4) Frank Holl; quoted Reynolds 1912, pp.259–60. Keene’s quirky appearance and behaviour were recorded by very many contemporaries; see Layard 1892 for a good selection.
Referencesback to topAllgemeines Künstlerlexikon 1992–
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