William Trost Richards 1833-1905

Landscape with Stream

  • 21 x 27 inches (53.3 x 68.6 cm)
  • Ink, wash and pencil on paper, laid on canvas
  • Signed on verso: William Trost Richards
  • c. 1865

Why We Love It

Though Richards is best known for his powerful seascapes of the northeastern coast, his earlier landscapes executed in the tight manner of the Pre-Raphaelites demonstrate the incredible range of his ability as well as his extraordinary attention to detail. During a brief period between 1864 and 1867, Richards created a number of full-scale detailed drawings, which may have been studies for his oil paintings. This work exemplifies Richards’ masterful drawing skills as well as his incredible fidelity to nature.

The Value

Richards once admitted that he had to stop working in the highly detailed Pre-Raphaelite style because the work took too long to complete and prevented him from a making a living. The Pre-Raphealite works of the 1850s and 1860s, therefore, are extremely rare and demonstrate Richards’s extraordinary technical skill. This finished full-sheet drawing is probably a depiction of the Wissahickon Creek, just outside Richards’s native Philadelphia. The subject matter, size, condition, and gorgeous period Sully frame make it collector’s treasure. It is as fine as we have seen for one of Richard’s Pre-Raphaelite drawings.

Artist Background

1833: Born in Philadelphia; 1846-47: Attended Central High School for Boys, but had to leave to go to work; 1850: Studied art with Paul Weber. Probably worked at Archer, Warner and Miskey; 1851: Took first sketching trip on the Brandywine River; 1852: Exhibited for the first time at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA); 1855: Took sketching trip up the Hudson River to the Adirondacks; 1856-57: Traveled to Europe, where he visited France, Switzerland, and Italy; 1859: Began taking summer sketching trips to Atlantic City, New Jersey, the Adirondacks, and New England; 1863: Becomes a member of the Association for the Advancement of Truth in Art, a group of artists very much influenced by the aesthetic theory of John Ruskin; 1875: Purchased home in Newport, Rhode Island, where he resided in the summer. Lived in Germantown section of Philadelphia during the winter; 1876: Awarded bronze medal at Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia; 1878: Traveled to England. Visited Cornwall; 1882: Spent first summer at Grey Cliff; 1889: Awarded bronze medal at Paris Exposition; 1891-1905: Traveled to Europe almost annually. Resided in Newport full time; 1905: Awarded PAFA’s gold medal of honor. Died.