Bates, David (1840-1921)

Bates, David (1840-1921)

British artist David Bates produced a wide array of landscapes and genre scenes throughout his successful career as a painter. Each one is bejewelled with luscious tones of colour and verdant veins of realism in a style reminiscent of Constable.

Bates’ artistic roots are grounded in the Royal Worcester porcelain works. He was apprenticed by this highly esteemed producer of decorative homewares to paint flowerboxes and other sundry items with floral patterns. Here he would have learnt a precise hand and careful execution in his work.

Perhaps his careful recreations of floral studies turned his attention towards nature as a subject of painterly inspiration, for Bates began to produce delicate and minutely detailed views of the British countryside.

Another root of inspiration was a local Worcester artist of great acclaim, Benjamin Williams Leader (1831-1923). Leader was a member of the Royal Academy whose father had been good friends with the venerated John Constable. Leader clearly took the lead from Constable in producing naturalist works depicting the British countryside with all its life and lushness intact.

The ghostly imprint of Leader’s influence can be seen in Bates’ studies of the Welsh countryside.

The saturation of colour soaked deep into the canvas furnishes the rivers and rocky moors with a strength and vitality.

Closer to home, too, the Worcester countryside offered inspiration aplenty for Bates’ pristinely captured scenes of rural idyll. Indeed, critics noted his work was often favoured as it reminded ‘Worcester people of Leader’s carefully finished early work.’

Despite taking inspiration from other artists, Bates was first and foremost driven by his own affinity with nature. He travelled further afield than Leader when he gave up his profession at the Royal Worcester porcelain works, travelling to North Africa. Here he captures with as much skill and detail scenes of the Egyptian landscape, pyramids dominant on the hazy horizon.

When he returned to England, settling first in Malvern, and then finally London, Bates continued to garner much inspiration from his surroundings. He exhibited regularly at both the seminal exhibitions in London and those further afield, gaining himself a national reputation. First and foremost, his works were praised for being ‘a careful study by a careful student of nature.’

His works are now held in numerous museums across Britain, including those of Worcester and Malvern. Bates’ roots have never been forgotten, and they ensure his works’ continued importance and celebration.


Born in Cambridgeshire.


Exhibited at the Royal Academy.


Began pursuing art professionally full-time.


Travelled to Egypt with fellow artist Edward Archer.


Died in Teddington, London.

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