February

William Trost Richards

Born and raised in Philadelphia, William Trost Richards took lessons with the German immigrant painter Paul Weber, as well as at the Pennsylvania Academy, before journeying to Europe in 1855-56, where he briefly studied in Düsseldorf, at that time a center for young American artists. After his return to the United States, Richards began to work directly from nature, sketching in the mountains of both New York State and Pennsylvania, as well as along the East Coast. "February" is an exception to the marine paintings that began to preoccupy Richards after the late 1860s. In this landscape, painted near the artist's farm in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, Richards evokes the chill and stillness of winter through the lowering gray sky, barren trees in the foreground, and his characteristic silvery tones. The artist manages to convey a dual sense of the truth-to-nature advocated by John Ruskin's "Modern Painters" and the Pre-Raphaelite artists he admired: not only accurate topography but also the experience of the place, so vivid that the viewer can almost hear the crunch of footsteps across the frost-covered grass. The Academy owns eight canvases and ten watercolors by Richards - a testament to his popularity with Philadelphia collectors.
Date of Birth
(1833-1905)
Date
1887
Medium
Oil on canvas, mounted on wood
Dimensions
40 1/4 x 72 in. (102.2 x 182.9 cm.)
Accession #
1923.9.5
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Edward H. Coates (The Edward H. Coates Memorial Collection)
Category
Subject
On View
Yes
On Loan
No