A Finding Aid to the William Trost Richards Papers,
1848-1920
, in the Archives of American Art
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.richwill
Creators:
Richards, William Trost, 1833-1905
Dates:
1848-1920
Languages:
English
The records are in English.
Physical Description:
1.8 Linear feet
Repository:
The William Trost Richards papers measure 1.8 linear feet and date from 1848-1920. The collection documents Richards' personal life and his career as a landscape and seascape painter. The collection consists of correspondence, writings, business files, printed material, photographs, and other miscellaneous materials.

Scope and Contents note
Scope and Contents note
The William Trost Richards papers measure 1.8 linear feet and date from 1848-1920. The collection documents Richards' personal life and his career as a landscape and seascape painter. The collection consists of correspondence, writings, business files, printed material, photographs, and other miscellaneous materials.
Correspondence files date from 1851 to 1917 and include family correspondence between Richards and his wife Anna as well as with their children. Of note are letters written by William Trost Richards to his wife while he was in Europe, which include many illustrations of his travels. Also found is general correspondence of a personal and professional nature between Richards and friends, artists, art dealers, and collectors, many of whom played a prominent role in Philadelphia society. Writings include essays written by Richards, homemade magazines written and illustrated by the Richards family, and writings by his wife Anna and others. Business files contain financial, legal, and real estate records, and printed material contains an exhibition catalog from 1976, news clippings, and event programs. Miscellany found in this collection include artwork by others, and inventory of paintings by others, compiled by Richards, and an interview transcript with Miriam Thayer Richards. Photographs include images of Richards, his wife Anna, and their home in Newport, Rhode Island.

Arrangement note
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged into 6 series:
  • Series 1: Correspondence, 1851-1917, undated (Box 1-2; 0.7 linear feet)
  • Series 2: Writings, 1849-1905, undated (Box 2-4; 0.8 linear feet)
  • Series 3: Business Files, 1865-1920, undated (Box 4; 3 folders)
  • Series 4: Printed Material, 1850-1906, 1976, undated (Box 4-5; 5 folders)
  • Series 5: Miscellany, 1848-1876, undated (Box 5; 5 folders)
  • Series 6: Photographs, circa 1850-1900 (Box 5; 7 folders)

Biographical/Historical note
Biographical/Historical note
William Trost Richards was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1833. From 1850 to 1858 he worked as a designer and illustrator of ornamental metalwork, and briefly studied draughtsmanship and painting with the German artist Paul Weber. Richards was also an active member of the Forensic and Literary Circle of Philadelphia during the early 1850s. In 1852 he had his first exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and a year later was elected a full Academician. He had great interest in landscapes and geological subjects, and spent summers sketching in the Catskills and Adirondacks. From 1855 to 1856 Richards toured Europe with William Stanley Haseltine and Alexander Lawrie, and was influenced by the Dusseldorf school of landscape painters.
Richards married aspiring poetess Anna Matlack in 1856, and they settled in Germantown, Pennsylvania, where they had eight children, five of which survived to adulthood. In 1858 he attended an exhibition of British art in Philadelphia, and was greatly influenced by the works of Pre-Raphaelite painters. He began painting outdoors, executing precise, naturalistic, yet atmospheric, landscapes. In 1862 he joined the National Academy of Design, and in 1863 joined the Society for the Advancement of Truth in Art, an American Pre-Raphaelite organization. From 1868 to 1874, Richards spent summers on the East Coast and began focusing on marine subjects painted in watercolor, exhibiting often with the American Watercolor Society. Richards also traveled to Europe several times, and lived there from 1879-1880 while trying to find a new direction for his artwork. In 1881 he built a summer house for his family in Newport, Rhode Island and moved there permanently in 1890. His wife Anna died in 1900, and he continued to paint landscapes and seascapes until his death in 1905.

Administration
Existence and Location of Copies note
This site provides access to the papers of William Trost Richards in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in
2010
, and total
1295
images.
Processing Information note
The entire collection was fully processed, arranged, and described by Erin Corley in 2005 and scanned in 2010 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Author
Erin Corley
Sponsor
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
The bulk of the collection was donated in 1980 by Mrs. James B. Conant, Richards's granddaughter. The Archives microfilmed this portion of the collection on reels 2296-2299 upon receipt. The inventory of paintings by others was donated by Victor Spark in 1954 and filmed on reel 3470.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access note
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Conditions Governing Use note
The William Trost Richards papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Preferred Citation note
William Trost Richards papers, 1848-1920. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Archival Materials note
Also available on microfilm at the Archives are the Geoge Whitney papers relating to William Trost Richards, 1875-1885, which includes 112 watercolors and an oil painting by William Trost Richards. These items were lent anonymously in 1979 and returned to the lender after they were filmed. They are available on reels 1497.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Daguerreotypes Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Marine painters -- Rhode Island -- Newport Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Marine painting -- 19th century -- Rhode Island -- Newport Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Landscape painting -- 19th century -- Pennsylvania -- Germantown Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Landscape painters -- Pennsylvania -- Germantown Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Whitney, George, D. 1885 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wilcox, William H. Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Coates, Edward Hornor, 1846-1921 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Eakins, Thomas, 1844-1916 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lambdin, George Cochran, 1830-1896 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Lanman, Charles, 1819-1895 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Avery, Samuel Putnam, 1822-1904 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/