Charles Dowdeswell was an art dealer. He was the son of the art dealer C. W. Dowdeswell. He had a brother called Walter and a sister called Eleanor. He married Emily Hoggett at St Pancras Church, London, on 7 April 1897.
In 1865 Charles Dowdeswell's father had a framemaking and print shop at 36 Chancery Lane, London, and in 1878 he opened a gallery at 133 New Bond Street. Later he moved to 160 New Bond Street. Both Charles and Walter worked in their father's gallery. Charles was in correspondence with JW concerning his father's art dealing business in the 1880s.
The Dowdeswell Galleries published prints by artists such as Felix Braquemond, Jules Jacquemart, Charles Méryon, Seymour Haden and JW. In 1886 he published A Set of Twenty-six Etchings (the 'Second Venice Set') for JW.
A large number of JW paintings also passed through C. W. Dowdeswell's hands, including Arrangement in Flesh Colour and Grey: The Chinese Screen (YMSM 51), Nocturne: The Solent (YMSM 71), Arrangement in Yellow and Grey: Effie Deans (YMSM 183). At JW's bankruptcy in 1879 C. W. Dowdeswell bought The Gold Scab (YMSM 208), a satirical portrait of F. R. Leyland, for twelve guineas.
In May 1884 JW held a one man show, 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', at the Dowdeswell Galleries at 133 New Bond Street. There were 61 oils, watercolours and pastels on view. JW designed the catalogue and the decoration, calling it an Arrangement in Fleshcolour and Grey. Although the exhibition was not a financial success, a second show was held in May 1886, An Arrangement in Brown and Gold, this time with 75 works on display.
Times, Friday 9 April 1897, p. 1; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995; 'C. William Dowdeswell', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, accessed 24 April 2002, http://www.groveart.com.