Frederick Richard Lee R.A. 1798-1879


by Kenneth J. Westwood
The River Ogwen

This book details the many and varied aspects of Lee’s life, from his birth in Barnstaple, Devon, to his death in South Africa. Lee was best known as one of the finest landscape artists of the nineteenth century, Kenneth Westwood provides a detailed appraisal of his art work, from the early 1820s until his retirement from the Royal Academy in 1871.

Frederick Richard Lee Gibraltar

Biography of Frederick Richard Lee

Lee’s reputation as a landscape artist was at its height from the early 1830’s until the late 1850s. In the earlier period, his artist colleagues and the press art reviewers alike rated his work higher than John Constable, who jealously expressed his dislike of Lee’s work in a number of letters, but who eventually admitted to Lee’s popularity. In the late 1840s Lee’s reputation was revived by his collaborations with Thomas Sidney Cooper R.A. – Lee painting the landscapes into which Cooper added cattle and sheep. All aspects of Lee’s career as a landscape painter and his relationships with his clientele are dealt with in great detail. This comprehensive biography is also supplemented by details of Lee’s great interest in shooting and fishing. He was often a guest at many of the finest estates in Great Britain which also often resulted in commissions for paintings.

Lee’s previously little known interest in photography is also recorded here and, for the first time, examples from the author’s collection of his rare mid-nineteenth century albumen prints, often utilised for his paintings, are illustrated. Other photographs known to have been taken by Lee, but yet to be discovered, are also described.

By the late 1850s, revenue from his paintings, the sale of his house in Penshurst and various inheritances, combined to make Lee a wealthy man and he decided to purchase a yacht. Details of his adventurous yacht voyages, from the late 1850s until 1879, were previously only known from brief nineteenth century newspaper reports. He was a member of both the Royal Western Yacht Club in Plymouth (from 1864) and The Royal Yacht Squadron on the Isle of Wight (from 1872). Lee’s Journals, which have been located, provide details of early voyages around the British Isles and to the Baltic and sightseeing in Russia, with descriptions of stops on later trips at Madeira and Tenerife en route to Cape Town. Lee’s many voyages around South Africa included sailing to Mauritius and Port Elizabeth, where he was made an Honorary Member of the Port Elizabeth Yacht Club are included. Other longer voyages to Australia, Tasmania and the West Indies are fully recorded.

Although by the time of these later yachting voyages, Lee had stopped painting, he took a number of previously unsold works to Cape Town, where he sold them, and all are documented here. His family life through two marriages is recorded, and particularly the lives of his three grandsons who sailed with him and for whom he bought farms in South Africa, where he eventually died aged 80 years old.

book cover Gillingham Mill

Book Contents

Eighteen chapters chronicle the various aspects of Frederick Richard Lee’s life and work, including details of his early years and his brief military career, his rapid rise as a landscape painter and his election to Royal Academician in 1838.

Like a number of artists, Lee also took advantage of the progress in the methods of photography. The subjects of some of his paintings were based on his many albumen prints. His lifelong pursuit of field sports, particularly fishing, is documented. After the purchase of his first yacht in the late 1850s, Lee undertook many long distance voyages.

Seven Appendices :

  • A dated list of Lee’s paintings from 1822 to 1872.
  • Lee’s Paintings in Public Galleries in Great Britain, including joint works with Sir Edwin Landseer and Thomas Sidney Cooper.
  • A Short list of Engraved Prints after Lee.
  • Lee’s Property in Pilton, Barnstaple, Devon.
  • Details of the Journals of his Yacht Voyages.
  • Bibliography of Books, Periodicals and Newpapers.
  • Archival Sources.

Illustrations of his paintings and engravings after his work.
Comprehensive Index.

The Author

Kenneth Westwood is internationally recognised as the leading authority on Thomas Sidney Cooper R.A., having written a number of books dealing with various aspects of his work. His definitive two volume biography of Cooper’s Life and Work published in 2011 included a list of works Frederick Richard Lee produced in collaboration with Cooper and a brief six page illustrated biography of Lee. Having amassed a great deal of further information about Lee not included in that work, he has written a biography documenting Lee’s interesting and adventurous life.

Book Details

Size 310x255mm.
Printed on 150gsm high-quality Silk paper.
Over 88 illustrations, 194 pages.
Bound in blue cloth, with dust jacket.


J.M. Goodacre Publishing
7 Water Street, Barrington, Ilminster, Somerset, TA19 0JR

Tel: 01460 54188


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