Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Richard Read (1796–1862)

by Jocelyn Gray

This article was published:

Richard Read (c.1796-1862), artist, arrived in New South Wales in November 1819 in the David Shaw as a free settler. In February 1821 his first professional advertisement appeared in the Sydney Gazette. He described himself as a portrait and historical painter and miniature painter, offered for sale 'a most elegant collection of drawings consisting of Natives of New Zealand and New South Wales, View, Flowers, etc', and was ready to teach drawing 'on a most easy and entirely new plan'. In this first advertisement Read adopted the distinction 'junior', drew attention to his address, 59 Pitt Street, and disclaimed any connexion whatever with any other person in the same profession, presumably a reference to Richard Read senior, who also lived in Pitt Street; but his death certificate was to name his father as Richard Read, artist. In an advertisement of April 1822 Read had dropped his claim to being a 'historical painter' but added landscape painting to his advertisement and offered to copy miniatures and portraits, and clean and restore oil paintings. In all later advertisements he described himself as a miniature and portrait painter who would also instruct in drawing and painting and clean and restore works of art. In the latest of these advertisements he gave his address as Somerset Lodge, Dowling Street, Surry Hills. From the same address Read contributed one miniature and four portraits to the 1849 exhibition of the Society for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Australia; one portrait was of Dr William Bland and another of Governor Sir Richard Bourke.

Very little is known of Read's personal life. On 30 May 1821 Richard Read, artist, was married by special licence at St Philip's Church to Eliza, aged 22, eldest daughter of Benjamin Hitchcock of George Street, Sydney. The age of the artist at this marriage was recorded as 25, but at the census of 1828, Richard Read, artist, who had arrived in 1819, gave his age as 29.

In July 1823 a Richard Read, who gave his address as York Street, Sydney, sent to Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane a memorial seeking a grant of land in the Bathurst district, and asserted his readiness to 'take off and support three government men from His Majesty's Stores'. Richard Read, the artist, had indeed arrived in New South Wales 'free, about four years back', as was stated in the memorial, but his address before and after its submission, and until his removal to Dowling Street, continued to be Pitt Street. A professional advertisement published by Read in 1843 did, however, give two addresses: Dowling Street, and Willow Cottage, Pitt Street, so that it is possible that the artist retained a studio in Pitt Street and lived elsewhere.

The artist signed his memorial 'Read', and in the census of 1828 his name is also given as 'Read' as it is in the catalogue of the exhibition of 1849. Both 'Reid' and 'Read' appear in his professional advertisements. Read died on 16 January 1862 in East Melbourne and was buried in Melbourne general cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • W. Dixson, ‘Notes on Australian Artists’, Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society), vol 5, part 5, 1919, pp 225-48.

Citation details

Jocelyn Gray, 'Read, Richard (1796–1862)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 18 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (Melbourne University Press), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Reid, Richard



16 January, 1862 (aged ~ 66)
East Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia