Richard Read | State Library of New South Wales

Richard Read Senior

Richard Read Senior was born in about 1765 in London. Not much is known of his life until 1812 when he was sentenced to 14 years’ transportation. He arrived in Sydney in October 1813 and was granted a ticket-of-leave eight weeks later.

In 1814 Read opened one of Australia’s first drawing schools. As well as offering lessons, he undertook commissioned artworks, specialising in portraits and miniatures. He also sold paintings, drawings and embroidery designs. Read’s skill as a portrait painter earned him the patronage of many of the colony’s notable citizens, including Governor and Mrs Macquarie.

Read continued his artistic career until the late 1820s. He may have left the colony at the end of his sentence. There is no record of his death, but it probably occurred in about 1829.

Confusingly, another Richard Read came free to Sydney in 1819 and also worked as a portrait painter. Calling himself Read Junior, this man may have been the older Read’s estranged son.

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