The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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George Richmond, 1809-1896

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1809.03.28
Place of Birth: Brompton
Date of Death: 1896.03.19
Place of Death: London


George Richmond, a history and portrait painter, watercolourist, draughtsman, engraver and sculptor, belonged to an English family of artists. He was the son of the miniaturist Thomas Richmond and brother of the portrait painter and miniaturist Thomas Richmond. He married Julia Tatham, the daughter of the architect Charles Heathcote Tatham in 1831 at Gretna Green. Together they had fifteen children, of whom only ten survived into childhood. Their son William Blake Richmond became a painter, sculptor and designer.


Richmond studied under Fuseli at the Royal Academy Schools, and made his début at the Royal Academy in 1825. In this year he met William Blake at the home of John Linnell. He and Edward Calvert became close followers of Blake and prominent members of Samuel Palmer's band of Ancients. His visionary paintings were Christian and literary in theme, archaic in style and high-minded in tone, e.g. Eve of Separation (1830; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford). Richmond also worked as a draughtsman, miniaturist and printmaker (see The Shepherd, 1827-1829, line engraving). However, it was through portraiture that he made his living. His portraits were marked by their richness of colour, inspired by the Venetian masters whom he had seen whilst in Italy from 1837 to 1839 and from 1840 to 1841. On this latter visit he met John Ruskin who became a close friend. In 1871 he was offered, but refused, the directorship of the National Gallery in London.

Richmond was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1857, becoming a full member in 1866. He exhibited in London not only at the Royal Academy, but also at the British Institution and Society of British Artists, a society which was to make him an honorary member in 1880, and which was to appoint JW its President in 1886. In 1874/1876 Richmond's name was included in a list compiled by JW that may have been a guest list for the private view of JW's Pall Mall Exhibition of 1874 or a subscription list for JW's Venice etchings as proposed in 1876 (#12714).


Wood, Christopher, Dictionary of Victorian Painters, Woodbridge, 1971; Johnson, J., and A. Gruetzner, Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1980; Lister, George Raymond, George Richmond: A Critical Biography, London, 1981; Brown, David Blayney, 'George Richmond', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 5 March 2003).