The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Richard Redgrave, 1804-1888

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1804.04.30
Place of Birth: Pimlico, London
Date of Death: 1888.12.14
Place of Death: London


Richard Redgrave was a genre and landscape painter, water-colourist, etcher and administrator. He was the brother of Samuel Redgrave.


Redgrave studied at the Royal Academy Schools under John Powell. His first success was with Gulliver Exhibited to the Brobdingnag Farmer (Victoria and Albert Museum, London), which he exhibited at the British Institution in 1836. He became known for his contemporary images of oppressed women, e.g. The Sempstress (1846; New York), which was inspired by Thomas Hood's 'The Song of the Shirt' (1843).

He also painted landscapes, focusing primarily on the countryside of England, but occasionally painting scenery abroad. He also executed etching and was a founder-member of the Etching Club in 1838.

From 1825 until 1883 Redgrave exhibited at the Royal Academy, British Institution and Society of British Artists, a society which was to name JW its President in 1886. He was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1840, becoming a full member in 1851.

Redgrave was one of the founders of the South Kensington Museums, along with Henry Cole. He was appointed Headmaster at the Schools of Design in 1848, Art Superintendent in 1852 and Inspector-General for Art in 1857. He took over from William Dyce on the national art education project. In 1853 he wrote An Elementary Manual of Colour and in 1855 he helped to select British paintings for the Exposition Universelle in Paris. He also acted as Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures from 1857 until 1880.

JW did not appear to have seen eye-to-eye with Redgrave. He wrote to Alan Summerly Cole in March 1873 concerning the South Kensington Museum: 'I see you have let loose Redgrave again! and he has got snagged on the Academy Committee! Bon Dieu! How could you neglect my interests thus!' (#09022).


Redgrave, Richard, 'Autobiography of Richard Redgrave ARA', Art Journal, 1850, pp. 48-49; Redgrave, R., and S. Redgrave, A Century of Painters of the British School, London, 1866; Redgrave, S., Descriptive Catalogue of the Historical Collection of Watercolour Paintings in the South Kensington Museum, London, 1877; Redgrave, S., A Dictionary of Artists of the English School, London, 1874; Dafforne, J., 'British Artists, their Style and Character, with Engraved Illustrations, no. xlv: Richard Redgrave RA', Art Journal, 1859, pp. 205-7; Redgrave, F. M., Richard Redgrave: A Memoir Compiled from his Diary, London, 1891; Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; Susan P. Casteras, 'Richard Redgrave', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 16 October 2002).