Charles Lauder was born in 1841, the son of James Thompson Lauder, a portrait painter. He studied art at Glasgow School of Design under Heath Wilson.
He was an elegant draughtsman with an ability to paint towns and cities. His earlier work is of the Clyde and Glasgow.
Lauder exhibited at the principal London galleries from 1890, having settled in London where he lived for 15 years. Late in life he returned to Lanarkshire, Scotland