William Trost Richards 1833 - 1905 American Hudson River School Painters
As a young painter, William Trost Richards looked to his artistic forebears in the first generation of the Hudson River School, such as Thomas Cole and Asher Durand. Born in Philadelphia, Richards had to give up his secondary education to go to work after the death of his father, and he became a designer for an ornamental metalwork form. He later studied draftsmanship and painting in Philadelphia with the German-born landscape painter Paul Weber (1832- 1916); a fellow student was Willaim Stanly Haseltine. By 1852, Richards had exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and in 1855 he set out on a European tour with Haseltine. Several months' study in Dusseldorf rounded out the excursion.
By June 1856, Richards was married and settles in Philadelphia. The carefully rendered studies that we know from his summer sketching trips suggest that the young artist had read Ruskin's Modern Painters, which had been published in New York in 1885. Richards is certain to have seen the exhibition of English art, much of it by Pre- Raphaelites painters and followers of Ruskin, held at the Pennsylvania Academy in 1858, the year Richards began to paint out-of-doors. He took to heart Ruskin's admonition to "paint the leaves as they grow! If you can paint one leaf, you can paint the world."
In 1863, Richards was elected to the newly formed Association for the Advancement of Truth in Art, founded to promote Ruskinian principles among American painters. By the late 1860s, he was spending summers along the eastern seaboard;after 1874, he stayed in Newport, Rhode Island. In 1884 he built a house there, Gray Cliff, that featured a panoramic view of the bay and ocean. Richards made his own mark as a recorder of marine scenes. Standing in the water, he painted quick sketches that serves as source material for his studio paintings. He was particularly interested in capturing the effects of light on water, waves crashing on rocks, and the ocean in a diffusing haze of mist.