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 Frederick DeBourg (De Berg) Richards  (1822 - 1903)



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Lived/Active: New York/Delaware      Known for: landscape, coastal views, etching

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Ad Code: 3
Frederick DeBourg Richards
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Laurie A. Baty, Deputy Director, Collections, US Holocaust Memorial Museum.  In the 1995 Daguerreian Annual, she also published an article titled: "Proud of the Result of My Labor': Frederick DeBourg Richards (1822-1903)."


b. June 24, 1822, Wilmington, DE - d. January 26, 1903, Philadelphia, PA

1836 to Westtown Friends
1840 in New York as an art student
After 1844 work regularly included in American Art-Union exhibitions
July 1845, age 23, gave a painting of Lafayette to the City of Wilmington.
1846 practicing the photographic art of daguerreotypy
1848 in city directories as a daguerreotypist
1850 photographic work at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine-Arts, Franklin Institute's Institute of American Manufacturers
1851 moved to studio to Chestnut across from the State House (Independence Hall)
Daguerreotyped Jenny Lind on her American tour
Other prominent individuals daguerreotyped by him include: Thomas Buchanan Read, Adelina Patti, Edwin Forrest, and Lola Montez.
1853 married and also excommunicated for marrying outside of the Society of Friends.
1854 working in salted paper process, but also painting; also continued to exhibit photographic work.
1855 elected to membership in the State Historical Society of Wisconsin because of the country's "indebted. . . to the rare skill of artists in placing permanently upon canvas the historic men and events of the age. . . .
1855 left on extended trip to Europe, the purpose of which was "to see as much as possible of the Fine Arts. . . ."
November 1855 began publishing "Notes of a Trip to Europe," an 8-part series.
1857 published Random Sketches or What I Saw in Europe: From the Portfolio of an Artist, illustrated with photographs he'd taken on the trip
1857 commissioned by local Philadelphians to go abroad and paint canvasses.
1861, married a second time (marriage lasted over 38 years)
mid-1860s stops commercial studio work.
1867 returns to Europe for 3-year tour, where he encounters a young Thomas Eakins in Paris
1876 painting of Pikes Peak exhibited at Philadelphia Centennial exposition
1882 has learned and is producing etchings, is a member of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Society of Etchers
1903, January 26, dies; his better works were "Roman Campagne", "Pikes Peak, Colorado".
Birthright member of the Society of Friends; wife and two daughters survived.
Buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery

Biography from Schwarz Gallery:
The photographer and landscape painter Frederick De Bourg Richards was born in Wilmington, Delaware.  Nothing is known about his early training, and he may have worked as an artist in New York in 1844 and 1845.  He had settled in Philadelphia by 1848, where he opened a daguerreotype gallery at 144 1/2 Chestnut Street, opposite Independence Hall.  Richards operated the gallery until 1855, and was noted for his “life-size” daguerreotypes.  His account book indicates that he sold photographs to such prominent Philadelphia artists as James Hamilton (1819–1878), William Trost Richards (1833–1905), Peter F. Rothermel (1817–1895), and others.

Around 1853 he began to take photographs that documented the appearance of Philadelphia’s historic buildings.  An article in The Journal of the Franklin Institute discussed improvements Richards had made to the stereoscope.  He exhibited daguerreotypes at the Franklin Institute’s annual exhibitions and may have printed copies of paintings and engravings. 

During the middle 1850s Richards traveled extensively in Europe, where he executed commissioned paintings of the Swiss Alps and Italian countryside.  In 1857 he published Random Sketches, or, What I Saw in Europe (Philadelphia: G. Collins).  A wood engraving after one of three photographs that Richards took of President-elect Abraham Lincoln raising the flag before Independence Hall appeared on the cover of "Harper’s Weekly" on March 9, 1861.  Around 1865 his interest in photography began to wane, and he devoted himself to painting landscapes, most of which were of the Pennsylvania countryside and the New Jersey seashore.

He exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts between 1848 and 1891, the National Academy of Design from 1865 to 1876, and the Brooklyn Art Association in 1875 and 1876.  He was also active in the Artists’ Fund Society, the Philadelphia Society of Artists, the Art Club of Philadelphia, and the American Art Union in New York.  Richards, who was a member of the Society of Friends, died at his residence at 1827 North Twelfth Street and was buried in West Laurel Hill cemetery.

Notes: 1. Richards’s account book is owned by the Schwarz Gallery. 2. The Journal of the Franklin Institute, vol. 5 (February 1853), pp. 285–87. 3. The majority of the biographical information is from Philadelphia: Three Centuries of American Art [exh. cat.] (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1976), pp. 363–64.

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Frederick Richards is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Painters of Grand Canyon

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