Robert Havell, Jr.
(1793 - 1878). The Havell family of Reading, Berkshire, England, included a number of notable engravers, etchers and painters, as well as writers, publishers, educators, and musicians. In particular, members of this family were among the foremost practitioners of aquatint; and had a long association with Indian art and culture. They are the English descendants of the aristocratic Hauteville family of Normandy. These early Havells are described in Philip Vickers 1995 The Moulsford Mystery, Part 1 being The First Evidence, by Vickers, and Part 2 being William Havell's Reminiscence of 1847. Published by The In-Hand Press of Farnham, Surrey, this printing is the sole printing of his Reminiscence, on the kind authority of Eric Stanford, then Keeper of Art at Reading Museum. Reading Museum holds the original manuscript writing by Havell. Vickers also holds the most complete family tree of the Havells, the work of his cousin, Ron Havell. As a descendant of the Havells on his mother's side, Vickers is a member of the d'Hauteville Family Association, Omnia Virtute. The family first came to notice through the brothers Luke Havell and Robert Havell the Elder; along with their nephew Daniel Havell. Luke Havell, born 1752, was lifted from a future life as a farmhand when a local squire recognised his talents and apprenticed him to a signwriter named Ayliffe Cole, from 1762 to 1764. He was appointed drawing-master at Reading Grammar School, where he served under the headmastership of Richard Valpy, and also had a small print shop in the town. He married Charlotte Phillips in 1778, and together they had fourteen children, including the painter William Havell, and Edmund Havell who took on the print shop, and succeeded his father as drawing master at the school. Robert Havell Sr. was the proprietor of a printing and engraving shop, with an ancillary business in natural history artefacts, in the Marylebone district of London, in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Robert was the brother of Luke Havell, and named as such in Luke's will; another brother, William, a butcher, was buried in Reading in 1832. In February 1793 Robert married Lydia Miller Phillips at St Sepulchre church in London; their eldest son Robert was born in Reading in December the same year. By 1801 Havell was established at 3 Chapel Street, off Tottenham Court Road, in London, giving his occupation as artist. The business, known from 1818 to 1825 as Havell and Son, became well known for its expertise in aquatint engraving and colouring. In 1824, following the marriage of his son, Robert moved the business to 79 Newman Street, where John James Audubon approached him in 1827 to engrave a portfolio of 240 drawings he had brought with him from America. Recognizing that without the help of another expert engraver he would not be able to take on a work of this magnitude, Robert Havell Sr. contacted his son, Robert Havell Jr., who had quarrelled with his father and left London in an attempt to launch an independent artistic career. Robert Havell Jr. consented to reestablish the partnership with his father and agreed to engrave the plates of Audubon's drawings, with Robert Sr. supervising their printing and colouring. The collaboration between father and son continued in this way until Robert Havell Sr.'s retirement in 1828. Robert died in 1832, and was buried at the Old St. Pancras Church graveyard in London. In older texts, Daniel Havell is often claimed as the father of Robert; but more recent references generally place him as born in 1785, the son of Luke's brother Thomas, also a painter, who was born in 1762. Daniel moved to London, and set up in partnership as an aquatint engraver with Robert Havell. Together they published aquatints of Twenty Four Views Taken in St. Helena after pictures by Henry Salt, and Twelve Picturesque Views of the River Thames from watercolours by William Havell. But the partnership did not last, and soon Daniel was working independently, including plates for Rudolph Ackermann's History of Cambridge and Ackermann's history of various Public Schools including Eton, Winchester and Rugby, as well as a celebrated view of St Paul's Cathedral and various other London landmarks for Ackermann's Repository of Arts. Other subjects included topographical views of Devon, and of North Wales; and views of naval engagements. Havell's final work was for E.W. Brayley's Historical and descriptive accounts of the theatres of London illustrated with a view of each theatre, elegantly coloured, drawn and engraved by the late Daniel Havell.