WILLIAM TROST RICHARDS (1833–1905)
A Marine Scene (Tintagel), 1886
Oil on canvas, 28 1/4 x 44 in.
Signed and dated (at lower left): Wm. T. Richards 1886
RECORDED: Linda Ferber, William Trost Richards: American Landscape and Marine Painter (Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, New York, 1980; New York: Garland Publishing, 1980), pp. 323, 324, 563 fig. 256 illus. // Carol M. Osborne, “William Trost Richards in England,” Stanford University Museum of Art Journal 22–23 (1992–93), p. 18 // Anne D’Harnoncourt, ed., Paintings from Europe and the Americas in the Philadelphia Museum of Art: A Concise Catalogue (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994), p. 294.7 // Teresa A. Carbone, ed., American Paintings in the Brooklyn Museum: Artists Born by 1876, Volume 2 (New York: Brooklyn Museum, 2006), p. 898 n. 8
EXHIBITED: Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach, Florida, 2006, American Cornucopia, n.n.
EX COLL.: Arthur H. Lea, Philadelphia; to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania, 1938 until the present
In 1878, Richards traveled to Great Britain, where he hoped to study the turbulent and wild Atlantic seacoast. This was the first of eight trips the artist would make over the next dozen years, as Richards became consumed with England’s coastal topography. Among his most favored sites were the cliffs along the Cornish coast, particularly the ruins at Tintagel. Legend has it that the medieval castle of Tintagel was the birthplace of King Arthur, and while no archaeological evidence has ever been uncovered to support this, the imposing site has a rich history dating back to at least 1233. Its connection to the Arthurian legends blossomed in the nineteenth century, especially due to Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, published between 1856 and 1885. Tennyson’s celebrated poetic retelling of the Arthurian legends almost certainly contributed to the Richards’s own fascination with Tintagel.
For over a decade, Richards returned again and again to Tintagel, filling his sketchbooks with studies of the site from every possible vantage point. Moved by the picturesque castle ruins, the size and dramatic height of the cliffs, and the enormous power of the Atlantic on Britain’s west coast, Richards made over fifteen views of Tintagel in oil and watercolor. Few, however, match the true sublimity of this example.