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 Addison (Thomas Addison) Richards  (1820 - 1900)

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Lived/Active: New York/Georgia/Maryland      Known for: southern landscape and still-life painting, travel illustration

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Addison (Thomas Addison) Richards
from Auction House Records.
A Stroll Through the Arcade
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in London, England, Thomas Addison Richards, age 11, came to Hudson, New York, and then spent the remainder of his youth in Penfield, Georgia.  He became one of the first artists to bring the beauty of the natural landscape of the South to the widespread attention of Americans through numerous paintings, illustrated travel guides, and magazine articles.

His early talent was shown in his 150 pages of watercolor sketches about his trip from England.  At age 18, a book of his flower paintings was published, and this was followed by an illustrated book on Georgia, which is credited with having some of the earliest pictures of the state of Georgia.  He also did portraits and landscapes, and in 1845, went to New York City to study at the National Academy of Design, where he became, for forty years, corresponding secretary during its greatest growth and influence.

In addition, he organized the first class for women at Cooper Union and was professor of art at New York University from 1867 to 1887. He traveled widely in the United States and Europe, and in 1857 did handbooks of American travel that became a model of their kind.

Source:
Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art

Biography from Charleston Renaissance Gallery:
Thomas Addison Richards was an early promotor of the Southern landscape.  English by birth and raised in New York State, where his family had immigrated to in 1831, he set out with his brother William Carey Richards for the South when he was little more than twenty years of age.

In Penfield, Georgia they published and illustrated a small book, which celebrated in words and pictures such scenic wonders as "Tallulah Falls," "The Lover's Leap on the Chattahoochee" and "Falls of Tawaliga."  Addison provided the original art work from which fine steel engravings of these subjects were made.

The brothers were so encouraged by the success of this, their first venture, that they quickly followed it up with the first number of The Orion", a monthly literary magazine.  William, as the new editor, introduced Addison, thus: "Our brother is permanently connected with the work as artist, and we are happy to add, as a contributor.  He will travel from Virginia to Louisiana. . . we will furnish one splendid original Southern landscape every number."(1)

Addison Richards was not only engaged in providing the original art work but in turning it into lithographs and engravings as well.   His fame as painter and printer preceded him to Charleston where he located himself at the end of 1843. A review that appeared in the "Rambler" of December 30 hailed the arrival of the creator of the plates in "Georgia Illustrated" and advised the Charleston public: "those who desire to ornament their parlors with exquisite home views will do well to commission some from his easel." (2)

One of Addison Richard's motives in residing in Charleston was to find a public that would perhaps be interested in taking painting lessons. In this same regard, he received the endorsement of the Rambler editor who wrote: "His mode of teaching is thoroughly practical, making nature the model and the imitation of nature, the end." (3)

Within a year Addison Richards had abandoned Charleston to seek further training for himself in New York City. He enrolled at the National Academy of Design, and in four years was made an Associate of that institution, which was a great honor.  He participated in New York's most prestigious art exhibitions by his regular submission of Southern material.

Through the 1850s he showed nothing but Southern landscapes at the Academy's annual exhibitions, while his Valley of Jocassee, South Carolina, Southern Landscape Scenery and Valley of Nacoochee, Georgia all found buyers at the American Art Union's show and sale of 1845 and quickly established a reputation for the young artist.

He reached a broad audience, continuing to publish his art work as book illustrations as well as taking up writing on Southern subjects.  Literature did not escape his interest, for he came out with Tallulah and Jocassee or Romances of Southern Landscape and Other Tales, in 1852.  Harper's New Monthly Magazine published his article entitled 'The Landscape of the South,' in which Addison extolled the beauties of the Southern mountains, rivers, waterfalls and the growing number of springs as desirable vacation spots.

In his book, The Romance of American Landscape (1855), which he illustrated with such Southern scenes as Birthplace of Washington, Va., and Cascade of Toccoa, Ga., he offered an apology for the relative death of Southern landscape as a deterrent to artists working there as well as the "mosquitos and Miasmas" with which artists had to contend. (5)

At the beginning of the sixties, Addison, responding no doubt to a sudden distaste for southern landscape material on the part of New York art collectors, took up still-life painting.  Though his fame today rests on his landscapes, his still lifes are beautifully composed, and they deserve more attention.

Addison made New York City his home for the rest of his life.  He took on the duties of Corresponding Secretary for the National Academy of Design in 1852, a post he filled for forty years, and he taught at New York University from 1867 until 1887.

He traveled in the Far West, from whence he brought back glowing pictures of the Grand Canyon, but to the connoisseur of Southern art, T. Addison Richards will best be remembered for his landscapes of the Southland done in the early decades of his long and distinguished career.

Sources:
(1) Louis T. Griffith. T. Addison Richards: Georgia Scenes by a Nineteenth Century Artist and Tourist.  Bulletin. Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, Vol. 1. No. 1. Fall 1974, p. 11.

(2) Anna Wells Rutledge.  Artists in the Life of Charleston (reprint edition) Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1980, p. 166.

(3) Rutledge. p. 151.

4) Mary Bartlett Cowdrey. American Academy of Fine Arts and American Art Union. New York: 1953.

(5) Jessie J. Poesch. "Growth and Development of the Old South, 1830 to 1900." Painting in the South: 1564-1980. Richmond: The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1983, p. 79. Cynthia Seibels, Copyright 1990, Robert M. Hicklin Jr., Inc.

Biography from Questroyal Fine Art, LLC:
Thomas Addison Richards was one of the nineteenth century’s most popular painters of the Southern landscape. Born in London, Richards grew up in the center of the American landscape movement: the area surrounding the Hudson River Valley in Hudson, New York. Lured by the mystery of the South, he set off in search of new vistas and new paths and began his professional career in Georgia and South Carolina. There he earned fame as a painter, printer, and art instructor before rejoining the art world in New York City. He traveled widely, finding fresh inspiration in the Catskill Mountains, the American West, and Europe, but continually returned to the Southern scenes that had first captured his imagination and established his renown.

His wide-ranging talent and versatility allowed him to carve out success in nearly every medium and genre: Richards was known for the landscape paintings, watercolors, illustrations, articles, and guidebooks that he based on his travels, as well as his fruit and floral still lifes, portraits, and seascapes. He became an influential member of the American art world, one who occupied an important post at the National Academy of Design for forty years, served as a professor of art at New York University for twenty, and arranged the first classes for women at the Cooper Union School of Art.

Richards exhibited at the National Academy of Design and the Brooklyn Art Association throughout his life; his paintings were also featured at the Boston Art Club, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the American Art Union, and the American Watercolor Society. His work is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Butler Institute of American Art, the Adirondack Museum, the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, the Farnsworth Art Museum, and the Morris Museum of Art.

Biography from Questroyal Fine Art, LLC:
Thomas Addison Richards was one of the nineteenth century’s most popular painters of the Southern landscape. Born in London, Richards grew up in the center of the American landscape movement: the area surrounding the Hudson River Valley in Hudson, New York. Lured by the mystery of the South, he set off in search of new vistas and new paths and began his professional career in Georgia and South Carolina. There he earned fame as a painter, printer, and art instructor before rejoining the art world in New York City. He traveled widely, finding fresh inspiration in the Catskill Mountains, the American West, and Europe, but continually returned to the Southern scenes that had first captured his imagination and established his renown.

His wide-ranging talent and versatility allowed him to carve out success in nearly every medium and genre: Richards was known for the landscape paintings, watercolors, illustrations, articles, and guidebooks that he based on his travels, as well as his fruit and floral still lifes, portraits, and seascapes. He became an influential member of the American art world, one who occupied an important post at the National Academy of Design for forty years, served as a professor of art at New York University for twenty, and arranged the first classes for women at the Cooper Union School of Art.

Richards exhibited at the National Academy of Design and the Brooklyn Art Association throughout his life; his paintings were also featured at the Boston Art Club, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the American Art Union, and the American Watercolor Society. His work is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Butler Institute of American Art, the Adirondack Museum, the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, the Farnsworth Art Museum, and the Morris Museum of Art.

Biography from The Johnson Collection:
T. Addison Richards was an artist of multiple talents and interests whose strong entrepreneurial instincts stood him in good stead throughout his career. Born in England to a Baptist minister, Richards accompanied his family on a series of successive moves in America, beginning in 1831. In 1838, working first from Augusta, Georgia and then Charleston, South Carolina, 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 Southern landscape, as evidenced in both word and paint, 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.”

In 1844, Richards moved to New York where he entered the National Academy of Design and began to exhibit with the American Art-Union. At this point in his career, he was best known for his romantic paintings of the Southern landscape, works which were clearly influenced by his Hudson River School contemporaries. From his base in New York, he continued to travel in the South, seeking out both views for his brush and picaresque episodes for his pen. His writings were a regular feature in such publications as Harper’s, Graham’s Magazine, the Knickerbocker and the Southern Literary Gazette, a periodical published by his brother and distributed from Athens, Georgia. A collection of his anecdotal adventures in the South was released as Tallulah and Jocassee in 1852, followed by The Romance of American Landscape in 1854. He is credited with creating an American tradition in travel guides by editing the first in a series of Appleton’s Illustrated Handbook of American Travel in 1857.

With the coming of the Civil War, the taste for paintings of the scenic South declined. Accordingly, Richards increased his teaching activity and expanded his artistic range by painting still life art. After serving as the first director of the Cooper Union School of Design for Women from 1859 to 1861, he taught at New York University for twenty years, retiring in 1887. Always popular with his colleagues, he served as corresponding secretary of the National Academy from 1852 to 1892, a tenure unsurpassed to this day. 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.

The Johnson Collection, Spartanburg, South Carolina
www.thejohnsoncollection.org

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Thomas Richards is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Hudson River School Painters

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