Richard Houston

Dublín, c. 1721

Richard Houston (1721?–London, 1775) was an Irish mezzotint engraver, whose career was mostly in London.

Born in Dublin about 1721, he became a pupil of John Brooks, who was also the master of James McArdell and Charles Spooner. He came to London about 1747, and some of his early plates bear the address “near Drummond’s at Charing Cross”.

In debt to Robert Sayer, the print-seller, he was arrested and confined to the Fleet prison; according to Sayer this in order that he might know where to find the dissipated Houston. He was released in 1760, on the accession of George III. As a free agent he was commissioned by Carington Bowles.

Houston’s major works are engravings after Sir Joshua Reynolds, which include portraits of: Elizabeth Percy, Duchess of Northumberland; Caroline, Duchess of Marlborough, and child; Mary, Duchess of Ancaster; Maria, Countess Waldegrave, later Duchess of Gloucester, with her daughter; Elisabeth, Duchess of Argyll, and her son; Lady Selina Hastings; Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough; Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield; and Richard Robinson, archbishop of Armagh.

He engraved also: seven portraits of George III, of which four were after Zoffany; six of Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, after Mary Benwell, Thomas Frye, Zoffany and others; and two, after Antoine Pesne, of Frederick II, King of Prussia, one full-length, the other on horseback; among others.

A series of portraits by him is in Richard Rolt’s Lives of the Principal Reformers, London, 1759.

Besides portraits, he executed a number of subject plates, such as: ‘The Virgin and Child,’ after Raphael; ‘The Temptation of St. Anthony,’ after Teniers; and plates of running horses, in which he excelled.

Houston’s early work included his series of portraits of politicians after William Hoare, as well as plates after Rembrandt. For Bowles he engraved religious figures. He painted a few miniatures.

Here you can see the artist's works that are part of the collection.