David Charles Read

1790 – 1851

see works by this artist




David Charles Read was one of the most fluent original etchers outside the Norwich School to be active in England between the years 1820 and 1845. Essentially a landscape artist, D.C.Read was born in Hampshire and was apprentice to the eminent engraver John Scott (1774-1828). He lived and worked in Salisbury for most of his life, where he became well known as one of the finest local drawing masters. D.C.Read was a friend of Goethe and etched his portrait; however, the majority of his printed works are landscapes, many depicting the countryside immediately surrounding the city of Salisbury and the nearby New Forest.

David Charles Read was, for a while, a protégé of John Constable. However, their relationship soured after the young D.C.Read began to impose over much upon Constable’s goodwill in relation to furthering the exhibition of his oil paintings in the main London shows. Possibly as a result of this, D.C.Read began to turn his attention away from oil painting during the mid 1820’s, concentrating more and more upon his particular forte for original printmaking.

Whilst David Charles Read may have remained little known as a painter, he excelled as an original printmaker. His beautifully open and highly confident etched works display a spontaneity associated with fine natural talent and betray the particular influence of the Dutch masters such as Rembrandt van Rijn. Further than this, D.C.Read was one of a select group of original printmakers, along with Rev.E.T. Daniell, A. Geddes, and D. Wilkie to make extensive use of drypoint as an original printmaking technique, handing on the traditions of this important process to the mid Victorians.

David Charles Read printed his own etchings and drypoints in groups mostly between 1828 and 1845. (Two volumes of proofs were presented to the British Museum by the artist as a reference collection of his works). D.C.Read’s printings appear to have been very limited in numbers and examples of D.C.Read’s etchings are now rare.