Redgrave, Richard (DNB00)
|←Redford, John||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 47
REDGRAVE, RICHARD (1804–1888), subject and landscape painter, second son of William Redgrave, and younger brother of Samuel Redgrave [q. v.], was born at 2 Belgrave Terrace, London, on 30 April 1804. At the time of his birth his father was a clerk in the office of Joseph Bramah [q. v.], inventor of the hydraulic press, but he afterwards became a manufacturer of wire fencing, and his son began life as a clerk and draughtsman in his father's office. He nevertheless found time to draw from the marbles in the British Museum, and in 1826 was admitted a student of the Royal Academy, to which he had in 1825 sent a picture of ‘The River Brent, near Hanwell.’ About 1830 he gave up office work, and for some years maintained himself by teaching drawing. He likewise sent pictures to the exhibitions of the Royal Academy, the British Institution, and the Society of British Artists. His first success was ‘Gulliver exhibited to the Brobdingnag Farmer,’ which appeared at the British Institution in 1836, and is now in the Sheepshanks Collection, South Kensington Museum. It has been engraved by James Mollison. In 1838 he sent to the British Institution ‘The Trial of Griselda's Patience,’ and a subject from Crabbe's poem of ‘Ellen Orford:’ this latter was rejected, but hung on the line at the academy in the same year. These were followed at the Royal Academy by ‘Olivia's Return to her Parents’ and ‘Quentin Matsys, the Blacksmith of Antwerp,’ in 1839; and by ‘The Reduced Gentleman's Daughter’ and ‘The Wonderful Cure by Paracelsus’ in 1840, in which year Redgrave was elected an associate. In 1841 he exhibited ‘The Castle-Builder,’ ‘Sir Roger de Coverley's Courtship,’ and ‘The Vicar of Wakefield finding his Lost Daughter at the Inn;’ in 1842, ‘Ophelia,’ one of his best figure pictures, and ‘Cinderella,’ both in the Sheepshanks Collection, and ‘Bad News from Sea;’ in 1843, ‘The Poor Teacher,’ ‘The Fortune Hunter,’ and ‘Going to Service;’ in 1844, ‘The Sempstress’ and ‘The Wedding Morning—the Departure;’ in 1845, ‘The Governess,’ now in the Sheepshanks Collection, and ‘Miranda;’ in 1846, ‘Preparing to throw off her Weeds,’ also in the Sheepshanks Collection, and ‘The Suppliant;’ in 1847, ‘Fashion's Slaves,’ ‘The Guardian Angel,’ ‘Happy Sheep,’ and ‘The Deserter's Home;’ in 1848, ‘Country Cousins,’ now in the Vernon Collection, National Gallery, and engraved by Henry C. Shenton, and ‘Bolton Abbey—Morning,’ in the Sheepshanks Collection; in 1849, ‘The Awakened Conscience’ and ‘The Solitary Pool;’ and in 1850, ‘The Attiring of Griselda,’ ‘The Child's Prayer,’ and ‘The Woods planted by Evelyn.’
Early in 1851 Redgrave was elected a royal academician, when he painted as his diploma work ‘The Outcast,’ and in the same year produced a more ambitious work, ‘The Flight into Egypt: Mary meditating on the Prophecy of Simeon,’ as well as a landscape entitled ‘A Poet's Study.’ Henceforward landscapes became more and more frequent among his exhibited works: ‘Love and Labour’ appeared at the academy in 1852; ‘The Forest Portal,’ in 1853; ‘An Old English Homestead,’ now in the South Kensington Museum, and ‘The Mid-wood Shade,’ in 1854; ‘The Sylvan Spring,’ in 1855; ‘Handy Janie,’ in 1856; ‘The Well-known Footstep,’ ‘The Cradle of the River,’ and ‘The Moorland Child,’ in 1857; ‘The Strayed Flock,’ ‘Seeking the Bridle-Road,’ and two pictures of the ‘Children in the Wood,’ in 1860; ‘A Surrey Combe,’ and ‘The Golden Harvest,’ in 1861. Among his later works may be mentioned: ‘Sermons in Stones’ and ‘Startled Foresters,’ 1874; ‘Starting for a Holiday’ and ‘The Mill Pool,’ 1875; ‘Calling the Sheep to Fold,’ 1876; ‘Deserted’ and ‘Help at Hand,’ 1877; and ‘The Heir come of Age,’ 1878. Redgrave's genre pictures have been called ‘social teachings,’ and he has himself written, ‘It is one of my most gratifying feelings that many of my best efforts in art have aimed at calling attention to the trials and struggles of the poor and the oppressed.’
Redgrave was actively engaged in the organisation of the government school of design, of which he was appointed botanical lecturer and teacher in 1847. He became head-master in 1848, art superintendent in 1852, and inspector-general for art in 1857. He was a member of the executive committee of the British section of the Paris Exhibition of 1855, and at its close received the cross of the Legion of Honour. In 1857 he received the appointment of surveyor of crown pictures, which he held until 1880, and during that time he compiled a detailed catalogue of the pictures at Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, Hampton Court, and other royal residences, in thirty-four manuscript volumes. In 1869 he was offered the honour of knighthood, which he declined, but on his retirement from office in 1880 he was created a C.B. He had previously, in 1875, resigned the directorship of the art division of the education department, to which he was promoted in 1874. He was awarded a special pension as a recognition of the great services which he had rendered to the science and art department. The presentation of the Sheepshanks collection of pictures and the Ellison collection of water-colour drawings was mainly due to his influence.
Redgrave died at 27 Hyde Park Gate, Kensington, London, on 14 Dec. 1888, his eyesight having gradually failed for some time previously. He was buried in Brompton cemetery.
There are two portraits of him in the possession of his family: a small one painted by himself when young, and another, life-sized, painted by Mr. Arthur S. Cope in 1880.
Redgrave was joint-author with his brother Samuel of 'A Century of Painters of the English School,' published in 1866, and wrote also 'An Elementary Manual of Colour,' 1853, and the introduction and biographical notices to a series of autotypes issued as 'The Sheepshanks Gallenr in 1870. A 'Manual of Design,' compiled from his writings and addresses, was published in 1876 by his son, Mr. Gilbert R. Redgrave, chief senior inspector of the National Art Training School. Ten pictures in oil by him, and a number of studies and sketches in watercolours and in chalk and pencil, are in the South Kensington Museum.
[Richard Redgrave, C.B., R.A., a Memoir compiled from his diary by his daughter, Miss F. M. Redgrave, with portrait, 1891; Art Journal, 1850, p. 48, autobiographical sketch, with portrait, and 1859, pp. 205–7; Sandby's History of the Royal Academy of Arts, 1862, ii. 290–4; Men of the Time, 1887; Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, ed. Graves and Armstrong, 1886–9, ii. 770; Royal Academy Exhibition Catalogues, 1825–83; British Institution Exhibition Catalogues (Living Artists), 1832–59; Exhibition Catalogues of the Society of British Artists, 1829–79.]