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William Trost Richards (American, 1833-1905)


A landscape artist with influential work associated with the American Pre-Raphaelite movement, Richards was born in mid-19th century Philadelphia; after attending the local high school, he studied art with the German artist Paul Weber while designing ornamental metal pieces which he eventually exhibited in 1852 at the tender age of 19.

After extensive European travel, he returned to Pennsylvania to marry and further his work as a watercolorist and accomplished painter, as well as draftsman. He made a name for himself with breathtaking landscapes of the White Mountains in New Hampshire, many of which are now housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Favoring an accurate portrayal over other highly stylized and unrealistic renderings, Richards distinguished himself from other artists of the time by creating photo-realistic landscapes using almost exclusively marine watercolors as his medium. Because of his intense passion to paint the truth of what his eyes saw and not a fantastical rendition, he was chosen to be a full member of the National Academy of Design in 1871.

William Trost Richards paved the way for other landscape artists to create from their surroundings instead of imagination and moved on to paint mainly seascapes in his later years; to get the appropriate perspective, he would often stand in the water to capture the wave's cresting. Many of his works of art can now be found in such esteemed places as The Saint Louis Art Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Wadsworth Atheneum and The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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