Portrait of James Heath ARA the engraver by Burch.
Click for larger image


James Heath ARA
Historical Engraver to the King
Associate of the Royal Academy
Lived in London

Portrait of James Heath ARA the engraver by Jackson.
Click for larger image

Born: 19 April 1757 and died 17 November 1834.
Son of: George Heath (?-1773), the Bookbinder, and Mary (previously Mrs Jacob, possibly Humball?).
Brother of:
1. Joseph Heath who became a bookbinder (1754-1820?) and never married.
2. William Heath (1755-1758).
3. Hannah Heath (1758-1774).
4. Sarah Botheroyde (nee Heath) (1759-?) who married in 1779 John Botheroyde (?-1813).
5. Robert Heath (1761-1765).
6. William Heath (1763-1774).
7. George Heath (1766-1821) who trained as a bookbinder and then became a builder (1766-1821).  George married in 1790 Mary Fielding (1760?-1843).
8. Ann Heath (1768-?) who died before 1774.
James married:
1st Eliza (or Elizabeth) Thomas (?-1835) October 1778, St Luke's Church, Old Street.
2nd lived with Mary Phillipson (1757-1819).  Mary appears to have been the sister of Amelia Petch and they were the daughters of Thomas Phillipson and Mary (or Elizabeth).
James and Eliza had issue:
1. George Heath (1778-1852) who married Ann Raymond Dunbar (1787-1842).
James and Mary had issue:
2. Caroline Hamilton (nee Heath, 1784-18??) who married Samuel Hamilton.
3. Amelia Clara Dollman (nee Heath, 1794-18??) who married Rev Frank (or Francis?) Dollman.
4. Charles Heath, the engraver (1785-1848) who married Elizabeth Petch (?-1861).
5. Harriet Dollman (nee Heath, 1789-18??) who married Edward Dollman.
6. Matilda Sophia Heath (nee Heath, 1792-1864) who married her second cousin William Tyler Heath  (1787-1852).


James Heath: An Overview

James Heath was very well known in his time and we find references to him in many books that cover art and engraving in the 18th and 19th century.  Possibly the best reference is the three book set 'The Heath Family Engravers' by John Heath, published in 1993 and 2000, copies of which can still be obtained from the family.

James Heath was apprenticed to the Engraver Joseph Collyer in 1771 and the earliest known engraving bearing James's name was published in 1779 for the poems of 'John Hughes' part of the series 'Poets of Great Britain' arranged by John Bell and published by Apollo Press for Martin & Blain, Edinburgh.  The engraving itself was often referred to as the Piping Boy.  It had originally been drawn by the artist Thomas Stothard and was the begining of a very fruitful partnership that was to last all through their lives, the unofficial partnership of Thomas Stothard the artist and James Heath the engraver.

As James progressed through his career he was to come into contact with many of the other famous artists of the time including; Sir Joshua Reynolds, Benjamin West, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Thomas Gainsborough, Sir Henry Raeburn, JMW Turner, John Copely, James Barrie, Richard Westall and numerous others.

Engraving of the Piping Boy engraved by James Heath from the drawing by Thomas Stothard.
Click for larger image

James's initial works were predominantly book illustrations for a variety of publications.  His major early success was with the 'Novelist' Magazine', which ran for 23 volumes from 1780-1788 and presumably established his reputation.  James produced approximately 100 engravings for this series and was paid 5 guineas (5 pounds and 5 shillings) for each engraving and an extra guinea for plates that were retouched.  These volumes were published by Harrison & Co and many similar works followed including the 'Ladies Poetical Magazine' and 'British Classicks'. 

Signature of James Heath the engraver from a receipt signed by him in 1788.
Click for larger image.

In 1788 James Heath completed the engraving of two plates for 'The Triumphs of Temper', a book of poetry by William Hayley, published by T Cadell & W Davies, 6th edition (First published in 1781).  A receipt has survived, dated 25 June 1788, recording that James received 10 Guineas for engraving one of the plates.  This could be a part payment but is more likely to have been the full cost to engrave one plate.  The book contained 7 plates all from drawings by Thomas Stothard and 2 of these were engraved by James Heath, the others being by J Neagle and W Sharpe.

The scope of James's work widened as he gained commissions for work from many other publishers including; J Johnson, T & W Lowndes, Charles Dilly, John Stockdale, T Cadell & W Davies, GGJ & J Robinson and J Boydell.  Good examples of his engraved illustrations for books would include The Pleasures of Memory by Samuel Rogers 1794 and The Pleasures of Hope by Thomas Campbell 1801.  On occasions James also published in his own name and one of his biggest projects was the six volume set titled 'Heath's Shakespeare', 1802.

In addition to engraving plates for books, James produced separate prints for framing.  Many of these were small portraits but he also produced a number of major works some of which took years to complete:

1787, 'The Apothesis of Handel' by Rebecca, 35cm x 25cm.
1788, 'Three Soldiers' by Salv Rosa, 22cm x 28cm.
1789, 'Archery at Blackheath' by Joseph Slater, 58cm x 33cm.
1789, 'Adam & Eve in Paradise' by Breughel, 47cm x65.
1790, 'The Riot in Broad Street' by Francis Weatley, 42cm x 59cm.
1792, 'Jupiter & Semele' by Cipriani, 26cm x 37cm.
1792, 'Diana & Endymion' by Cipriani, 26 cm x 37cm.
1795, 'The Dead Soldier' by J Wright, 46cm by 61cm.
1796, 'The Death of Major Pierson' by John Singleton Copley, 55cm x 76cm.
1811, 'The Death of Lord Viscount Nelson' by Benjamin West, 48cm x 64cm.
1817, 'Pilgrimage to Canterbury' by Thomas Stothard, 93cm x 27cm.
1820, 'The Drowned Fisherman' by Richard Westall, 43cm x 58cm.
Not dated, 'Mary introducing Jesus to John the Baptist' by Rafael, 61cm x 43cm.

Engraving of the Death of Lord Nelson from the painting by Benjamin West, engraved by James Heath. 
Click for larger image

In 1817 James completed Thomas Stothard's 'Pilgrimage to Canterbury' which had originally been started by the engraver Louis Schiavonetti.

Pilgrimage to Canterbury from the picture painted by the artist Thomas Stothard.  Engraving started by  Lewis Schivonetti and finished by the engraver James Heath ARA. Dedicated to the Prince Regent by Elizabeth Cromek, widow of RH Cromek.
Click for larger image

Of the large number of portraits completed by James during his career, possibly the most well known was of 'George Washington', after the painting by Gilbert Stuart, 1800, (50cm x 33cm).  Some of the other portraits include:

1796, 'John Bannister in the charactor of Walter' by Richard Westall, 38cm x 46cm.
1799, 'Samuel Johnson' by Joshua Reynolds, 16cm x 13cm.
1799, 'Carlos Lawson' by W M Craig, 30cm x 25cm.
1800, 'George Washington' by Gilbert Stuart, 50cm x 33cm.
1801, 'Lord Nelson' by Lemuel Francis Abbott, 42cm x 33cm.
1804, 'Richard Colley Wellesley ', Governor General of India' by Robert Home, 64cm x 46cm.
1804, 'Robert Roy' by M A Shee, 43cm x 34cm.
1805, 'William Henry West Betty as Hamlet' by James Northcote, 58cm x 40cm.
1807, 'William Henry West Betty as Young Norbal' by John Opie, 50cm x 34cm.
1807, 'William Wilberforce' by J Russell, 30cm x 25cm.
1813, 'Robert Blair of Avontoun' by Sir Henry Raeburn, 44cm x 36cm. 
1813, 'Sir Joseph Radcliffe Bart' by W Owen, 50cm x 32cm.
1815, 'William Pitt, High Stewart of the University of Cambridge' by EF Burney, 55cm x 25cm.
1815, 'Titian's Daughter' by Titian, 31cm x 26cm.
1830, 'William Markham, late Archbishop of York' by John Hoppner, 43cm x 34cm.
Not dated, 'George Brookes' by Woodforde, 28cm x 22.
Not dated, "Rev'd Thomas Jones MA, late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge" by Morland, 30cm x 25cm.

Portrait of George Washington engraved by the engraver James Heath after the picture painted by the artist Gilbert Stuart 1800
Click for larger image


James Heath had his own portrait painted by many of the artists of the day.  Some of the known portraits include:

James Heath and his first wife Eliza by H Burch, 1780-1781.
James Heath by Gilbert Stuart, 1784.
James Heath by Thomas Kearsley, 1794-1795.
James Heath , as published in the Mirror, (possibly painted by Mrs Beechey), 1795.
James Heath by Lemuel Francis Abbott, 1796 (or earlier).
James Heath by Henry Edridge, 1810(?).
James Heath by W Behnes, 1819.
James Heath by AJ Oliver, 1819.
James Heath by Jackson, 1825(?).
James Heath by John Boaden, 1827.
James Heath by SJ Stump, 1829.
James Heath by J Lonsdale, 1830.
James Heath by Thomas George, 1833 .

Portrait of James Heath ARA the engraver by Burch
Click for larger image

Portrait of James Heath by Gilbert Stuart.
Click for larger image.

Portrait of James Heath ARA the engraver by Kearsley
Click for larger image

Portrait of James Heath ARA the engraver
Click for larger image

Portrait of James Heath by Lemuel Francis Abbott.
Click for larger image.

Portrait of James Heath by Henry Edridge.
Click for larger image.

Portrait of James Heath by W Behnes.
Click for larger image.

Portrait of James Heath by John Jackson.
Click for larger image. 

Portrait of James Heath by J Lonsdale.
Click for larger image.

James Heath by Thomas George.
 Click for larger image

James Heath Drawing Master Bath
Click for larger image

A small card exisits advertising James Heath's services as a drawing master available for tuition in Bath (8 Chapel Row, Queen Square).  While it is assumed that James was predominantly an engraver, presumably he did give lessons from time to time but only infrequently as there is no other record of him as a drawing master.

For those interested in collecting works by James Heath, books with engravings by him do turn up from time to time in Antiquarian bookshops and can be bought from as little as 10 each or as much as 10,000.  Separate prints can also be found on occasions in the general art market and sell from 10 to 1000 each.  I do have some spare books for sale.  If these are of interest please click here.


If you have any information to add to what is listed please contact me on jj@jjhc.info
(Home) (Information on the books "The Heath Family Engravers")  (Old Books for sale)