The Piur Auld Houses
Pen and blue and black ink with water-colour; signed and inscribed "The piur auld houses"
10 1/2 x 5 inches
Doyle worked as a clerk for the Scottish Office of Works in Edinburgh from the age of 19, until he was dismissed in 1876. He married his landlady's daughter when he was 22 and had ten children by her, one of them the author Arthur Conan Doyle. By the time of his dismissal he was an alcoholic and later, an epileptic (a syndrome that was then misunderstood as a form of madness); he ended his days in 'Sunnyside', his nickname for the Montrose Royal Lunatic Asylum.
Charles Doyle was less successful than his brothers. His pictures are less literal than his brother Dicky's, but are more original in that they are cast from his imagination than from texts, or legends, and are executed with a lighter touch better suited to the airiness of his subjects. He once remarked that to 'an appreciative eye a few touches suggest as much as the most finished drawing, - and the minimum of execution expresses all that can be conveyed by the most elaborate picture'.
To his wife's great exasperation, Doyle was said to have traded many of his drawings for drinks during his more desperate hours. Here, Doyle draws Edinburgh's 'piur auld houses' bathed in a melancholy moonlight.