Charles Davidson Bell
(22 October 1813 Crail
Crail ; ) is a former royal burgh in the East Neuk of Fife, Scotland.-History:Crail probably dates from at least as far back as the Pictish period, as the place-name includes the Pictish/Brythonic element caer, 'fort', and there is a Dark Age cross-slab preserved in the parish kirk, itself...
Fife is a council area and former county of Scotland. It is situated between the Firth of Tay and the Firth of Forth, with inland boundaries to Perth and Kinross and Clackmannanshire...
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...
- 7 April 1882 Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...
) was the Surveyor-General in the Cape
The Cape Colony, part of modern South Africa, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, with the founding of Cape Town. It was subsequently occupied by the British in 1795 when the Netherlands were occupied by revolutionary France, so that the French revolutionaries could not take...
, an artist, heraldist, and designer of Cape medals and stamps.
Bell landed in the Cape in 1830 and through his uncle Sir John Bell, Secretary to the Cape Government, was given a post in the civil service. He was appointed as expedition artist on Dr. Andrew Smith
Sir Andrew Smith KCB was a Scottish surgeon, explorer, ethnologist and zoologist. He is considered the father of Zoology in South Africa having described many species across a wide range of groups in his major work, Illustrations of the Zoology of South Africa.Smith was born in Hawick, Roxburghshire...
's two-year journey north as far as the Limpopo
Limpopo is the northernmost province of South Africa. The capital is Polokwane, formerly named Pietersburg. The province was formed from the northern region of Transvaal Province in 1994, and initially named Northern Transvaal...
in 1834. He went from Acting Clerk of the Legislative Council in 1838, to Assistant Surveyor-General in 1843, to Surveyor-General in 1848.
In 1851, he designed a silver gallantry medal for Cape governor Sir Harry Smith to present to troops during the 8th Frontier War. This is often referred to as the first South African medal.
Appointed to the Postal Enquiry Board in 1852, he designed the well-known Cape of Good Hope triangular stamp, the first of that shape, which became extremely rare and consequently much sought after by philatelists. His design of rectangular stamps remained in use until 1902.
Many of his sketches and paintings show a whimsical sense of humour, though his sensitive portrayals of the mixed population of Cape Town and of the tribes he encountered on the Smith expedition to the north, have become an invaluable record of life in nineteenth-century South Africa. The return of many of his paintings from England to South Africa in 1978, gave art historians a fresh appreciation of his work and greater insight into that period of Cape history. However, in his essay “Alcohol and Art”, Russel Viljoen, professor in history at the University of South Africa
The University of South Africa is a distance education university, with headquarters in Pretoria, South Africa. With approximately 300 000 enrolled students, it qualifies as one of the world's mega universities.-History:...
"International interest in the 'Hottentots' (Khoikhoi) of South
Africa date back and span many centuries. Recurrent colonial encounters influenced the way in which
artists, engravers, travel writers and colonial observers represented the Khoikhoi people. Against this backdrop, the colonial artist Charles Davidson Bell had produced a few sketches of Khoikhoi men and women, depicting them either as useless drunkards or lazy members of Cape society ... the duplication and
re-duplication of these stereotyped images distributed as 'pictorial souvenirs' in the form of
201 postcards invariably left an imprint of negativity in the psyche of the colonial beholder."
Bell also made an important contribution to heraldry
Heraldry is the profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol, as exercised by an officer of arms. Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman herald, from the Germanic compound harja-waldaz, "army commander"...
in South Africa. Throughout his residence at the Cape, he copied old Dutch/Afrikaner coats of arms from memorials, seals, stained glass windows, and other artefacts, and in 1861 he advertised his intention of publishing them in book form. The book did not see the light of day, but he later gave the manuscript, the drawings, and his notes to his brother-in-law Daniel Krynauw. Krynauw built up his own heraldry collection, and after his death, the two collections were placed in a Cape Town museum, from where they were transferred to the South African Library (now National Library of South Africa
The National Library of South Africa is the agency of the government of South Africa which maintains a national library of all published materials relating to the country.-Creation under the National Library Act:...
- Cape Town Campus) in 1946. The material in the Bell-Krynauw Collection was eventually published in Cornelis Pama's Die Wapens van die Ou Afrikaanse Families
(1959), and his later heraldry books.
Bell designed the arms of the South African College (now University of Cape Town
The University of Cape Town is a public research university located in Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College, and is the oldest university in South Africa and the second oldest extant university in Africa.-History:The roots of...
), and the "three anchors" badge of the South African Mutual Life Assurance Society ("Old Mutual"), of which he was chairman at one time. Both emblems are still in use, and may well be the oldest academic arms and corporate logo in South Africa.
Bell was a founder member and chairman of the South African Mutual Life Assurance Society, and a prominent Freemason. He was awarded a gold medal in 1851 for his oil painting depicting the Landing of van Riebeeck at the Cape of Good Hope
. A large number of his originals hang in the Library of Parliament in Cape Town, the University of the Witwatersrand
The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg is a South African university situated in the northern areas of central Johannesburg. It is more commonly known as Wits University...
and the Africana Museum in Johannesburg. The book Travels in the Interior of South Africa
(1868) by James Chapman
James Chapman James Chapman James Chapman (27 December 1831 Cape Town - 4 February 1872 Kimberley, was a South African explorer, hunter, trader and photographer.A son of James Chapman and Elizabeth Greeff of Malmesbury and brother to Henry Samuel Chapman, he was educated in Cape Town and left for...
, was illustrated by Bell. His Reports of the Surveyor-General, Charles D. Bell Esq., on the copper fields of Little Namaqualand (1855)
was written after a three-month visit to the area. He gave his name to the town of Bellville in the Cape, and Bell, a small village between Peddie and Hamburg, near the mouth of the Keiskamma River in the Eastern Cape.
John Bell was a traveller and the eldest son of Charles Davidson Bell. Between 1861 and 1862 he accompanied Henry Samuel Chapman from Cape Town to Walvis Bay
Walvis Bay , is a city in Namibia and the name of the bay on which it lies...
, through Hereroland
Hereroland was a bantustan in South West Africa , intended by the apartheid government to be a self-governing homeland for the Herero people. It was set up in 1968 and self-government was granted two years later....
to Lake Ngami
Lake Ngami is an endorheic lake in Botswana north of the Kalahari Desert. It is seasonally filled by the Taughe River an affluent of the Okavango River system flowing out of the western side of the Okavango Delta. It is one of the fragmented remnants of the ancient Lake Makgadikgadi...
and back to the Cape Colony via Shoshong
Shoshong is a town in Botswana, formerly the chief settlement of the eastern Bamangwato.-Physical location:Shoshong is located at latitude -22.95, longitude +26.48, in the Central District, about N.N.E. of Mafeking and N. of Shoshong Road Station on the Cape Town-Bulawayo railway. It is 40 km...
Kuruman is a town with 12,701 inhabitants in Northern Cape province of South Africa, famous for its scenic beauty and the Eye of Kuruman, a geological feature bringing water from deep underground to the surface in the Kalahari Desert....
Hopetown lies at the edge of the Great Karoo in South Africa's Northern Cape province. It stands on an arid slope leading down to the Orange River. The first diamond discovered in South Africa, the Eureka Diamond, was found at Hopetown.-History:...
. He was married to Margaret Roome in 1865 and died in 1878 in England.
Charles Bell was a friend of Andrew Geddes Bain
Andrew Geddes Bain , South African geologist, road engineer, palaeontologist and explorer.-Life history:...
and was a pall-bearer at his funeral in 1864. After his retirement in 1872 he returned to Scotland in 1873 with Helena and their 3 surviving children, where Helena Bell died on 10 September 1881 and he died on 7 April 1882.
Bell married Martha Antoinette Ebden on 3 June 1841.
- John Alexander Bell born 25 January 1843 in Grahamstown
Grahamstown is a city in the Eastern Cape Province of the Republic of South Africa and is the seat of the Makana municipality. The population of greater Grahamstown, as of 2003, was 124,758. The population of the surrounding areas, including the actual city was 41,799 of which 77.4% were black,...
- Charles David Ebden Bell born 1 August 1845 in Cape Town
Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa, and the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape. As the seat of the National Parliament, it is also the legislative capital of the country. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality...
- Catherine Mariann Bell born 16 December 1848 at Canigou, Rondebosch
Rondebosch is one of the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa. It is primarily a residential suburb, with a medium-size shopping area, a small business district as well as the main campus of the University of Cape Town.-History:...
, Cape Town died 16 July 1863
Charles Bell divorced Martha Ebden on 1 July 1850 having cited Dr. Lestock Wilson Stewart as co-respondent. Court granted Charles Bell custody of the three children - Martha gave birth to second daughter Charlotte Margaret on 17 October 1850 - Bell denied paternity. Charlotte Margaret died before 10 April 1866.
Bell's second marriage to Helena Krynauw on 7 July 1859.
- Helena Isabella Bell born 31 May 1860 in Cape Town
- Alexander Bell born 15 September 1861 in Cape Town
- Anthony Bell born 9 February 1863 in Cape Town
- David Duncan Traill Bell born 21 April 1864 Cape Town died 14 December 1865
- Catherine Susan Bell born 11 May 1865 Cape Town died 13 September 1865