Heath, Charles (1785-1848) (DNB00)


HEATH, CHARLES (1785–1848), engraver, born in 1785, was illegitimate son of James Heath [q. v.], the engraver. He received instruction in engraving from his father, and an etched head done by him at the age of six is in the print room at the British Museum. He proved an apt pupil, helping to carry to perfection the style of small plates for book illustration initiated by his father. He was early in life a fellow of the Society of British Artists, and contributed for some years to their exhibitions, but subsequently left the society. His small plates for the numerous popular editions of English classics are executed with great taste and delicacy, and in some of his portraits, such as that of ‘Lady Peel’ after Sir Thomas Lawrence, he attained great excellence. In his larger plates he was less uniformly successful; among these were ‘Puck’ and ‘The Infant Hercules’ after Reynolds, ‘Sunday Morning’ after M. W. Sharp, ‘The Girl at the Well’ after R. Westall, ‘The Bride’ after C. R. Leslie, ‘A Gentleman of the time of Charles I’ after Vandyck, ‘Ecce Homo’ after C. Dolce, ‘Europa’ after W. Hilton, and ‘Christ Healing the Sick in the Temple’ after B. West, a large engraving which took him some years to complete. In May 1826 his collection of engravings was dispersed by auction, apparently from pecuniary difficulties. Heath, though not the originator, was the chief promoter of the well-known illustrated ‘Annuals,’ and kept a large school of assistants working under his superintendence. The later years of his life were almost entirely occupied in the production of the ‘Keepsake,’ the ‘Picturesque Annual,’ the ‘Literary Souvenir,’ the ‘Book of Beauty,’ the ‘Amulet,’ and publications on a similar scale, such as Turner's ‘England and Wales.’ The engravings in these works are executed with marvellous technical skill and fidelity, but being somewhat cold and mechanical in appearance failed to maintain their hold on public taste. Heath engraved but little with his own hand in them. Among his pupils were the well-known engravers Doo and Watt. Heath died on 18 Nov. 1848, in his sixty-fourth year, leaving a family, of whom one son became an engineer and another was brought up to his father's profession. In April 1840 a second sale was held of his stock engravings executed since 1825.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Dodd's manuscript Hist. of Engravers (Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 33401); Gent. Mag. 1849, new ser. xxxi. 100; Art Journal, 1848; Brit. Mus. Cat.; private information.]

L. C.