William Trost Richards

Ackermans Fine Art

William Trost Richards


William Trost Richards, an American landscape and marine artist, was born on June 3, 1833 in Philadelphia. He is associated with both the Hudson River School and the American Pre-Raphaelite movement.

Richards’ formal education ended at the age of thirteen when he quit school to support his family by working as a commercial draughtsman designing ornamental metal fixtures. During this time he studied privately with William Stanley Haseltine and German artist Paul Weber, from whom he learned a meticulous graphic technique. William was supported by local persons in Philadelphia who financed a year of study in Europe from 1855 to 1856. Richards’ first public showing was part of an exhibition in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1958. The exhibition was organized by artist Albert Bierstadt. In 1862, Richards was elected honorary member of the National Academy of Design, and Academician in 1871. He became a member of the Association of the Advanced of Truth in Art, and American Pre-Raphaelite group in 1863. During the 1970s, Richards produced many acclaimed watercolor vies of the White Mountains. Several of these paintings are currently in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. From 1861 to 1899, William Trost Richards exhibited at the National Academy of Design, and from 1863 to 1885, he exhibited at the Brooklyn Art Association. In 1871, he was elected a full member of the National Academy.

William Trost Richards painted meticulous factual renderings, rather than the romanticized and stylized approach of other Hudson River painters. He was inspired by American poetry and American landscape painters John Kensett and Frederic Edwin Church.  The latter part of his career was focused on coastal and marine paintings.

Richards’ works are featured today in many American museums, including the National Gallery, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, the High Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Fogg Art Museum, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.

William Trost Richards died on April 17, 1905 in Newport, Rhode Island.