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Ferdinand (Joachim) Richardt

 (1819 - 1895)
Ferdinand (Joachim) Richardt was active/lived in New York, California / Denmark.  Ferdinand Richardt is known for Danish manor houses, waterfall paintings.

Ferdinand (Joachim) Richardt

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Ferdinand (Joachim) Richardt
Ferdinand Richardt (1819-1895): A Brief Biography by Melinda Young Stuart 2003.

Ferdinand Richardt, whose full name was Joachim Ferdinand Richardt, was born in Brede, Denmark, just north of Copenhagen, and studied at the Royal Art Academy in Copenhagen with Bertel Thorvaldsen, Gustav Hetsch, and J.L.Lund.  Early on he received support from the Danish Crown to travel, sketch, and paint landscapes and castles, and a number of his paintings soon entered the royal collections.

His lithographs (sketched "from Nature") of Danish and Swedish manor houses began appearing in 1844, and were widely acquired by Scandinavia's landed gentry until the series ended in 1870.  In 1855, Richardt embarked on a sojourn to America, reputedly at the invitation of William Vanderbilt who was said to have paid him $14,000 for a painting of Niagara Falls.  This 4-year visit allowed Richardt to produce over 100 landscape canvases of Niagara Falls, the Mississippi River, Mammoth Cave, Philadelphia, and other scenic tourist destinations.  When shown in two New York exhibitions, the works were favorably reviewed.

By 1860, Richardt was back in Copenhagen displaying his American "prospects" to the Danish public and continuing his lithographic productions.  During that decade he married, exhibited annually at Denmark's Charlottenborg salon, and traveled to Italy and England where Queen Victoria invited him to show his work at Windsor Castle.  During these years Richardt also produced a large number of Copenhagen and Stockholm city views, as well as pure landscapes and architecture studies.

In 1873, the artist immigrated with his family to the United States, stopping for a year and a half at Niagara Falls, before arriving in San Francisco in 1875.  During his final 20 years on the West Coast, Richardt specialized in marine and city views, and depicted the majestic redwood groves north and south of San Francisco, even then being rapidly cut down.  Several fine Richardt canvases of Yosemite valley are also known, although most of his travels were closer to home.  In 1876 he moved across the water to the city of Oakland, but maintained an active exhibition and teaching schedule on both sides of the bay through the 1880s. 

He died in Oakland in 1895 and is buried in the city's Mountain View Cemetery, designed by Frederik Law Olmsted.

In this country, Richardt exhibited at New York's Stuyvesant Institute (1857), the National Academy of Design (1859), Buffalo Fine Arts Academy (1874, 1875, 1876), Mechanic's Institute, and the San Francisco Art Association during the 1870s and 1880s. 

His works are held today by The White House, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Oakland Museum of California, U.S. Department of State, and many other American museums and private collections. 

In Denmark, his works are found in the Statens Museum for Kunst, Nationalmuseet, Thorvaldsens Museum, Frederiksborg Castle, and in many other collections, both public and private.

Reference: Melinda Young Stuart and Niels Peter Stilling. Danske Herregarde og Amerika [Danish Manor Houses and America]: The Landscape Art of Ferdinand Richardt (1819-1895). Denmark: Sollerod Museum, 2003

Note, December 2003, from Melinda Young Stuart, who has done extensive research on this artist:

Over the years, and continuing, there is confusion over the artist's name.  His true and complete name is: "Joachim Ferdinand Richardt."  I have seen copies of his death certificate, his Danish baptism and family census records etc., as well as hundreds of his painted and sketched picture signatures--enough to be confident of my statement. Unfortunately for the artist, these confusions have further muddied water which is already shallow with lack of correct public information!

The "Joachim" was his true first name, but he NEVER used it when signing pictures. He DID, sometimes, sign "J.F. Richardt," especially on drawings.  Most often he signed "Ferd. Richardt," or "F. Richardt" or "Ferdinand Richardt."

The "REICHARDT" listing is more problematic!
I believe he never signed pictures this way, but others differ. Several museums and the publications previous documenting their works claim he spelled it this way--principally The White House and the New-York Historical Society.

Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for Ferdinand (Joachim) Richardt


by Melinda Young Stuart and Niels Peter Stilling
Published in Denmark, 2003 (in English and Danish)

The first book-length treatment of the Danish-American artist, Ferdinand Richardt, was published in Denmark in June 2003 as a joint venture of the Danish National Museum, Sllerd Museum, and Jutland's Manor House Museum.  The hard cover, decorated with Richardt paintings, holds 250 pages of text, maps, and pictures--36 in full color.

The book documents Richardt's accomplishments as a painter of realistic landscapes in what America calls the 'Hudson River' tradition and what Denmark terms its 'Golden Age.'  Trained in Europe, this artist moved from an Old World society of landed gentry to a new American one of natural wonders and a developing west coast.  Today Richardt's paintings hang in the White House, the U.S. Department of State (Washington, D.C.), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in many other museums, and in public and private collections, and yet his dramatic impressions of Niagara Falls, the California coast, and the Mississippi River have never before been comprehensively studied and brought together for the public.  Even as the artist's paintings have commanded rising prices at auction, no dependable source of reference has--until now--been available to experts.

Melinda Young Stuart's decade of research is presented in a 58-page English text which recounts and illustrates the artist's entire life and work, emphasizing his American period.  Niels Peter Stilling's Danish text, meanwhile, concentrates on Richardt's extensive mid-19th century work among Denmark's ancient manor houses.  Each text can stand alone. The book contains substantial notes and references.

Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for Ferdinand (Joachim) Richardt
Born in Brede, Denmark on April 10, 1819.   Richardt studied at the Royal Academy in Copenhagen and was an established artist in his native land with sales of his paintings to the King of Denmark, the Russian Czar, and British royalty.  Upon arriving in NYC in the early 1850s, he painted views  of Virginia, New York, and Pennsylvania and had equal success in selling his work to wealthy American patrons.  He was commissioned by Wm Vanderbilt to paint Niagara Falls for $14,000; the painting brought him such fame that large paintings of the falls became his forte. 

After moving to San Francisco in 1875,  he made regular trips into the mountains of Santa Cruz and northern California.  His last studio-home was located in Oakland where he died on Oct. 29, 1895.  Primarily a landscapist, he also painted still lifes of fruit, vegetables, and flowers. 

Mechanics' Institute (SF), 1875, 1882
San Francisco Art Association, 1876
California State Fair, 1880. 

NY Public Library
NY State Historical Ass'n
Thorwaldsen Museum (Copenhagen)
Oakland Museum
Society of California Pioneers
De Young Museum

Edan Hughes, author of the book "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
G&W; Ben; Oakland Museum; SF Examiner, 10-30-1895 (obit).

Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

Biography from Auctionata
Joachim Ferdinand Richardt (1819-1895) J. F. Richardt was born in Brede, in the north of Copenhagen. Since 1836 he attended the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, being a student of the architect and designer Friedrich von Hetsch, the historical painter Johan Ludwig Lund and the sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. Richardt received a five-year state scholarship in 1847 and was committed to provide the Royal Collection with paintings. Between 1855 and 1859 he visited the Unite States of America for several times. He maintained a studio in New York City, during the summer he traveled to the Niagara Falls and the Mississippi. In 1872/73 he eventually emigrated to America. Since 1876 he lived and worked in California. As a painter of landscapes, castles and various tourist attractions, he was already recognized and appreciated in his lifetime. (hth)

Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery
Ferdinand Richardt was a highly prolific artist who worked both in Denmark and in the United States, where he traveled in the 1850s and later settled permanently in 1873.

Born in Brede, outside Copenhagen, he trained at the Royal Danish Academy of Art, and was known in his native country for architectural and landscape views of important castles and ancient manor houses. The artist's first four-year American sojourn from 1855 to 1859 resulted in thirty-two large paintings of Niagara Falls, for which he is best known in America.

In January of 1859, following extensive sketching trips by canal boat, steamer, and rail throughout the eastern half of North America, Richardt mounted his Gallery of Paintings of American Scenery at New York's National Academy of Design. Among other views, the exhibition included paintings of Grace Church on lower Broadway in New York; the Hudson River; Cape May, New Jersey; the White Mountains of New Hampshire; the upper reaches of the Mississippi River; Virginia's Natural Bridge; and, significantly, six paintings depicting Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, noted in the catalogue as "the first collection of views from this wonderful Cave, ever exhibited."

Returning to Copenhagen, Richardt exhibited his American collection in 1860, later traveling in Italy and England. Finally, in 1873 he emigrated to the United States, stopping at Niagara Falls and settling in California. There he was drawn to coastal scenery, to redwood forests and mountains, including Yosemite Valley, and to city views in San Francisco and Oakland. During the last twenty years of his life he exhibited and sold works to the public, and taught drawing and painting.

Richardt died in 1895 at his home in Oakland. His pictures are found today in many museums in this country and Scandinavia.


Biography from Kramer Gallery, Inc.
Known as the painter of American natural wonders such as Niagara Falls, Ferdinand Richardt began his career with studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. He traveled in America in the late 1850s, painting landscape and genre scenes notable for their architectural detail, multiple figures, and atmospheric treatment of the landscape. Richardt painted Niagara Falls from numerous viewpoints, showing a "Niagara Gallery" of paintings in New York in 1856. He moved between America and Europe several times, and published a series of lithographs of Danish manor houses.

Richardt emigrated to America and moved west in the 1870s, settling in Oakland, California and painting Yosemite Falls, the Monterey peninsula, and urban scenes.

Rena Neumann Coen, PAINTING AND SCULPTURE IN MINNESOTA, 1820-1914 (1976)

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About  Ferdinand (Joachim) Richardt

Born:  1819 - Brede (Seeland) Denmark
Died:   1895 - Oakland, California
Known for:  Danish manor houses, waterfall paintings

Essays referring to
Ferdinand (Joachim) Richardt

Hudson River School Painters