When the brothers Richard and Samuel Redgrave sat down to write the book which was, in effect, the first popular account of British Painting, at the same time they started to erect a monument to their own integrity and their astonishing industry.
They dug into the previous authorities, Walpole's 'Anecdotes' and half a hundred others, and quarried what seemed valuable or permanent from much gossip and more speculation.
' A Century of Painters' appeared first in 1866, and it still remains an important source book of information about the nineteenthcentury painters whom Richard Redgrave, as a Royal Academician, had known well, in addition to providing a convenient and readable account of the history of painting in these islands as a whole before the end of the eighteenth century.
This new edition, which is largely founded upon the second edition of 1890, has been checked to correct dates and facts, established since by modern research. For the most part, errors have been corrected silently, to avoid an overburdening with notes, which would have detracted from the great virtue of the book, which is its readability.
I have tried, however, to draw attention to the present location of some of the paintings mentioned in the text, though I fear that some of them are impossible to trace, and, further, where a note seemed to be called for, as a guide to fuller information upon any point, I have supplied that. All footnotes are supplied by the editor.
The plan of the original work precluded the mention of any living painter, and this resulted in a most ill-balanced chapter, in the second edition, upon the subject of the Pre-Raphaelites. I have omitted this chapter as well as an out-of-date account of the process of picturerestoration. By doing this, I have succeeded in making the main body of the book closer to its title, which claimed that it dealt with a 'century' and not with a period of several centuries.