Benedict Read

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Benedict Read in Cyprus (photo: Michael Paraskos)

Benedict William Read (born 1945) is an English art historian, the son of the eminent art critic and poet Sir Herbert Read. Usually known as Ben Read, he is the author of numerous books, essays and articles on nineteenth and twentieth-century art history, and is probably the most authoritative writer on British Victorian sculpture alive today.

Education and Employment[edit]

Born in Seer Green, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, Read went to Ampleforth School, a Catholic boarding school, run by Benedictine monks. Later he studied English Literature at the University of Oxford and then studied art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. As well as teaching at the Courtauld Institute, he was Deputy Witt Librarian there until 1990, when he became Senior Lecturer in Art History at the University of Leeds. At Leeds University he was also Director of the MA Sculpture Studies programme, under the auspices of the Henry Moore Foundation, from 1990 to 1997. In 2010 he was made Senior Visiting Research Fellow in Fine Art at the University of Leeds.


Amongst his books are Victorian Sculpture[1] and Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture,[2] and he has contributed essays to numerous texts including the Albert Memorial,[3] The Houses of Parliament,[4] and The Edwardians: Secrets and Desires.[5] An extremely important essay by Read on British sculpture between the first and second world wars appeared in 1986 in the volume Sculpture in Britain Between the Wars.[6]

Wider Interests[edit]

In addition, Benedict Read is external examiner for the Cyprus College of Art, chairperson of the editorial committee of the Sculpture Journal, former president of the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association, and Chairperson of the Leeds Art Collections Fund (the LACF) and a keen Arsenal supporter. He is also a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

A committed Catholic, Ben is particularly interested in 20th-century Christian art and sits on the Roman Catholic Church's Historic Churches Committee for the Diocese of Leeds.

He is the brother of writer Piers Paul Read and half-brother of the BBC documentary maker John Read.


  1. ^ Victorian Sculpture (New Haven: Yale, 1982)
  2. ^ Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture (London: Lund Humphries, 1991)
  3. ^ Albert Memorial (New Haven: Yale, 2000),
  4. ^ The Houses of Parliament (London: Merrill, 2000),
  5. ^ The Edwardians: Secrets and Desires (Melbourne: National Gallery of Australia, 2004)
  6. ^ Benedict Read and Peyton Skipwith, Sculpture in Britain Between the Wars (London: Fine Art Society, 1986)