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Earles painted portraits and figures inspired by literature and the Bible as well as still-lifes. He exhibited widely in his lifetime.
He was born on 18 August 1821 at precisely 6.30 a.m. according to the family bible. He was the third son, one of fifteen children of William Earles, who worked in a London bank, and Elizabeth née Chester, of Hackney, London. After some initial training as a miniature portrait painter – at the London National Gallery, according to the family – Earles entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1842 then studied in Paris in 1846. He exhibited with the Royal Academy from 1844 to 1863 (56 works) and with the Society of British Artists (Suffolk Street) between 1842 and 1863 (55 watercolors and oils).