Lot 413: Thomas Addison Richards

Neal Auction Company

December 3, 2016, 10:00 AM CST
New Orleans, LA, US
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Description: Thomas Addison Richards (British/New York, 1820-1900), "An Outing; Hudson River Valley Landscape", 1853, oil on canvas, signed, dated and inscribed "N.Y." lower center, "A Heydenryk Frame, The House of Heydenryk, New York" label en verso, 48 1/2 in. x 48 1/4 in. (painted circle), framed. Provenance: Henry B. Holt, Inc., Essex Fells, NJ, Oct. 1982; Private Collection, Louisiana. Exh.: “The Romance of American Landscapes: The Art of Thomas Addison Richards” Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA, 1983 and listed in the accompanying catalogue Note: Thomas Addison Richards was born in London and immigrated to America in 1831 with his family, moving first to Hudson, New York, and then to Charleston, South Carolina. Around 1837, they settled in the small town of Penfield, Georgia, the original site of Mercer University, where Richards's father, a Baptist minister, served as a charter trustee. In 1838, working first from Augusta, Georgia and then Charleston, Richards offered drawing lessons and began to write a series of illustrated travel accounts for which he would eventually earn national fame. His pioneering regard for the splendors of the American landscape, as evidenced in the monumental canvas offered here, was first recognized in an 1843 publication, which noted that his “drawings of the beautiful scenery of the Southern States are almost the first pictures which have been made from this rich store-house of nature.” Late in 1844, Richards settled permanently in New York City, where he gave art lessons from his studio and began taking classes at the National Academy of Design. He subsequently became a full academician and served as the institution's corresponding secretary from 1852 to 1892. Many of the paintings he regularly contributed to academy exhibitions were romantic landscapes of the South and Hudson River Valley. From his base in New York, he continued to travel, seeking out both views for his brush and his pen. For the weekly Southern Literary Gazette, published by his brother out of Athens, Georgia, and Harper's New Monthly Magazine (New York), he submitted essays on his travels through the South. Richards enlivened his travelogues with personal anecdotes, legendary stories, tips on lodging, and engravings after his on-site drawings. Tallulah and Jocasse, a collection of Richards' short stories about the South named for two waterfalls in north Georgia, one being the famed Tallulah Falls, once known as the "Niagara of the South," was published in 1852, just one year prior to the creation of the work offered here. In 1854, a series of engravings after Richards's southern sketches appeared in Romance of American Landscape. Richards was painting at the height of his career when he created the panoramic and important landscape offered here. Clearly influenced by his Hudson River School contemporaries, the artist offers a scene that reflects man’s peaceful coexistence with nature and a reverence for the American landscape. The sweeping scene is anchored by the inclusion of a couple with a picnic basket in the foreground, highlighting the expansive countryside beyond them beautifully lit by the setting sun. The exacting brushwork of the foliage and expert composition attest to Richards’ skill at capturing a landscape. During and following the Civil War, Richards increased his teaching activity. He served as the first director of the Cooper Union School of Design for Women in New York, a position he held from 1858 to 1860, and taught at New York University from 1867 to 1887. Richards’ works can be found in the collections of the National Academy of Design, Brooklyn Museum, Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Morris Museum of Art, Gibbes Museum of Art and Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Ref.: Koch, Mary L. "Thomas Addison Richards (1820-1900)." New Georgia Encyclopedia. Sept.b10, 2013. Accessed Oct. 22, 2016. “Thomas Richards”. The Johnson Collection. www.thejohnsoncollection.org. Accessed Oct. 22, 2016. Bruce, Kate. "Thomas Addison Richards." KnowLA Encyclopedia of Louisiana. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Sept. 12, 2012. www.nola.org. Accessed Oct. 22, 2016.
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