Cecil Charles Windsor Aldin (1870 – 1935), was a British artist and illustrator best known for his paintings and sketches of animals, sports, and rural life. Aldin executed village scenes and rural buildings in chalk, pencil and also wash sketching. He was an enthusiastic sportsman and a Master of Fox Hounds, and many of his pictures illustrated hunting. Aldin’s early influences included Randolph Caldecott and John Leech.
Born in Slough, Aldin was educated at Eastbourne College and Solihull Grammar School. Cecil Aldin’s father, a builder, was a keen amateur artist so Cecil started drawing at a very young age. He studied art at the studio of Albert Joseph Moore in Kensington but, unhappy with the teaching methods Aldin left after a month to study animal anatomy at the National Art Training School in South Kensington. After this he attended a summer school run by the animal painter and teacher, William Frank Calderon at Midhurst, Sussex. He sold his first drawing, which appeared in The Building News of 12 September 1890. This was followed by a dog show picture purchased by The Graphic in 1891. He rented a studio in Chelsea and in 1892 he began a long association with The Illustrated London News.
At the invitation of the fine genre painter, Walter Dendy Sadler, Aldin stayed at Chiddingstone where he made close friends with Phil May, John Hassall and Lance Thackeray and along with them, Dudley Hardy and Tom Browne, founded the London Sketch Club. The birth of his son and daughter inspired a series of nursery pictures which together with his large sets of the Fallowfield Hunt, Bluemarket Races, Harefield Harriers and Cottesbrook Hunt prints brought him much popularity. He illustrated the 1910 edition of Charles Dickens‘ The Pickwick Papers. A popular book by Aldin was Sleeping Partners, a sequence of pastel drawings of his dogs on a couch. It included his Irish Wolfhound Micky, a puppy he purchased from Florence Nagle as a gift for his wife, and his favourite model, Cracker, a Bull Terrier with a dark patch over one eye.
In 1930 Aldin retired to live in the Balearic Islands, hoping the warmer climate would ease his arthritis. He lived in Palma and elsewhere on Mallorca while continuing to paint and etch, producing some of his best work, including illustrations for The Bunch Book (1932), about Bunch, a Sealyham Terrier by James Douglas. Travelling back to England for a visit in January 1935 he suffered a heart attack whilst still at sea. When his ship docked, Aldin was rushed to the London Clinic but could not be saved.