"Forrest's theatrical style served him particularly well in conveying the spectacle of nature." - René Villeneuve, catalogue Lord Dalhousie Patron and Collector, 2008
Charles Ramus Forrest was an infantry officer and amateur artist. His poetic rendering of the Canadian landscape emphasized his individualized style.
When he arrived in Quebec to work as a staff member of the Earl of Dalhousie, Governor in Chief of Canada, he was already heavily involved in his art and known as an accomplished artist.
He painted watercolours during his first posting as an aid de camp in West Indies as a Lieutenant with t he 90th Regiment from 1778-81. His early style was heavily influenced by the followers of Francis Towne who lived in and around Exeter, England. This influence is seen in the landscape views of the Pyrenees that he executed in 1820.
While in Quebec, he tried to capture the picturesque qualities and the magic of the Canadian landscape as well as the majesty of Quebec City, of which he painted four ambitious panoramic views. His work is characterized by its simple, clear and stylized manner. Sometimes Forrest worked his compositions after the sketches of John Elliott Woolford, whom he replaced as an officer/artist in the Dalhousie entourage.
Forrest was completely absorbed by his art, and painted the spectacle of nature in a very modernist manner. Although he was an accomplished artist, his name was never mentioned in Dalhousie's Journals.
After a short two years in Canada, from June1821 to February1823, Forrest returned to England where he capitalized on his artistic realizations, publishing a view book on his travels through India. Another planned book, the icturesque Tour through the Provinces of Lower and Upper Canadas, for uncertain reasons, was never published.