(American, 1833 - 1905)

Saint Martin, Guernsey

Oil on canvas, 20 x 32 inches
Signed at lower right: “”Wm. T. Richards”
Inscribed on stretcher: “{St. Martins [Pt?] Guernsey}”
Shattuck stretcher keys.

William Trost Richards studied in his native Philadelphia with the German landscape painter Paul Weber (1823 1916), as well as in Florence, Rome, and Paris. Upon his return to the United States in 1856, he painted almost exclusively landscapes of Pennsylvania and New York State, developing a style that integrated the delicacy and fidelity to truth in nature of the Pre Raphaelites, whose work he had seen in Philadelphia in 1857, with the Realist tradition in which he was trained. After returning from his second trip to Europe in 1867, Richards began painting the seascapes and coastal views of New Jersey and Rhode Island that would occupy him for much of his career. In 1875 he purchased a summer home in Newport, Rhode Island, and in 1882 he built a house, “Gray Cliff,” overlooking Narragansett Bay and the ocean beyond. Richards now increasingly chose New England subjects, displaying a particular fondness for views of the open sea with just a faint indication of the coastline in the foreground.

Richards’s sea views impressed the critic Earl Shinn, who wrote about his Atlantic Coast (private collection), then in the collection of Fairman Rogers, a director of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia and also a patron of Richards’s friend Thomas Eakins (1844-1916):

It reaches an accuracy and perfection which painters of no other country have dreamed of; it applies to the difficult, moving model–the billow–all the scrupulous and photographic finish with which [Jean-Léon] Gérôme or [James] Tissot would treat a model of which he had absolute control, and whose repose he could ensure. It must be seen to be appreciated, for no description will carry away the impression of its implacable truthfulness.

Richards was a member of the American Water Color Society and the National Art Club, both in New York. He exhibited at various museums and art associations throughout the United States as well as at the Royal Academy in London, and won numerous prizes. The majority of his paintings were shown at the Pennsylvania Academy from 1852 until the final year of his life. He also exhibited at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876, where he won a medal. Today his paintings are in museums and private collections throughout the United States. William Trost Richards (1833-1905): American Landscape and Marine Painter, by Linda S. Ferber (New York: Garland Publishing, 1980) is the most complete reference on the artist.

About the Artist

(American, 1833 - 1905)

William Trost Richards studied in his native Philadelphia with the German landscape painter Paul Weber (1823-1916) and in Florence, Rome, and Paris. After returning from his second trip to Europe in 1867, Richards began painting the seascapes and coastal views of New Jersey and Long Island that would occupy him for so much of his career. In 1875 he purchased a summer home in Newport, Rhode Island, and in 1882 he built a house, Gray Cliff, overlooking Narragansett Bay and the ocean beyond. Richards now increasingly chose New England subjects, displaying a particular fondness for views of the open sea with just a faint indication of the coastline in the foreground. Later in his life he made frequent trips to England, but he never strayed from the type of painting for which he was best known: tight, realistic, sometimes dramatic coastal scenes executed in the luminous and almost transparent palette of the Pre-Raphaelites. After selling his home in Newport, Richards spent his final years at “Oldmixon” in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Richards was a member of the American Water Color Society and the National Art Club, both in New York. He exhibited at various museums and art associations throughout the United States as well as at the Royal Academy in London and won numerous prizes. The majority of his paintings were shown at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia from 1852 until the final year of his life. He also exhibited at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876, where he won a medal. Today his paintings are in museums and private collections throughout the United States.