Born in 1884, Snaffles was one of the greatest sporting and military artists of his time. Charlie Johnson Payne was the fourth of a boot maker’s eight children and from his youth developed a passion for all things military. He tried to enlist in the army to fight in the Boer war, but was rejected on the grounds that he was too young. Eventually, he joined the Royal Garrison Artillery at the age of 18 as a gunner but in 1906 he was forced to leave because of illness. However, his time in the army was influential, as his first recorded works of semi-caricature portrait date from this time. Invalided out of World War One, Payne took a job as a war artist for The Graphic and it was during these years that he produced some of his finest military work.
After the war his work became more varied, although he still often contributed to The Sporting & Dramatic News. It was as a sporting artist that “Snaffles” built his reputation and, after the War, he worked on the hunting, shooting, polo, racing and fishing subjects which made his name. The classic series of pig-sticking prints he completed in India in the 1920s are perhaps the images for which he is best known and his depictions of military life in the Raj are second to none.
He and Lucy lived just outside Guildford from 1925 until early in World War II. He helped with the camouflage of airfields, gasometers etc. and joined the Home Guard. When their house was narrowly missed by a stick of bombs, they moved first to Somerset, then to Devon and eventually to Orcheston in Wiltshire, before buying Orchard Cottage, Hindon Lane just after the war.
Snaffles built an element of humour into his work and the captions to his subjects were often as important as the artwork. He died in 1967.
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