Charles Johnson Payne (Snaffles)
Born January 17 th 1884 at Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, Charlie was the fourth of a bootmaker’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. His passion for hunting began at about this time in the Aldershot region.
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. In 1912, Payne moved to Oakham, Rutland . His hunting in the Shires inspired his most famous print “The finest view in Europe ”.
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.
Snaffles built an element of humor into his work and the captions to his subjects were often as important as the artwork. Payne’s work was published in limited edition prints for nearly half a century, the early prints published in back and white and hand colored, the later were photographic color prints. Most all have a humorous inscription and are signed in pencil. A large number have print borders bearing an impressed mark of two interlocking snaffle bits. The prints almost always have a sentimental nostalgic theme. Manny of his original prints are now being reproduced again, as he carries his universal appeal into the 21 st century.