Sir William Blake Richmond RA (1842-1921)

The artist William Blake Richmond, son of George Richmond RA, became a student at the Royal Academy Schools in 1856. In 1859 he visited Venice and Padua to study the works of Italian masters, on the first of several trips to Italy. He was in Rome from 1865-69, studying landscape under Professor Costa, and learning the technique of fresco. He then returned to England, exhibiting a Procession in Honour of Bacchus at the Academy in 1869, the first of a series of large imaginative compositions, including Ariadne Lamenting the Desertion of Theseus (1872), Prometheus Bound (1874), An Audience at Athens (1874), Venus and Anchises (1890) etc. He was much influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites, and many of his pictures have a similar sort of appeal, in the Rossetti or Ford Madox Brown sense, and sometimes in the style of Burne-Jones.

Richmond also became a noted portrait painter, though his feminine portraits were criticised as

'regarding a woman mainly as a decorative object, on whom - with rare exceptions - psychology, profundity of character and even truth have little to do.'
Among his sitters were Holman Hunt, William Morris, the author Andrew Lang, Charles Darwin, and Bismarck. Richmond also was responsible for the mosaic decorations in St Paul's Cathedral, and worked to some extent as a sculptor. His works in this medium include a Greek Runner in St Peter's Square, Hammersmith, a funerary monument to Bishop King in Lincoln Cathedral, and monuments to Gladstone and his wife at Howarden, North Wales.

Richmond was Slade Professor at Oxford from 1879 to 1882, became ARA in 1888 and was elected full Academician in 1895.

Apart from the works already mentioned, paintings by Richmond are in the Tate Gallery, including a rather polished portrait of Mrs Emma Moon (1888), and a small Pre-Raphaelite work, The Slave (c.1886). A portrait of Stephenson is at the National Portrait Gallery. Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, another Pre-Raphaelite work, is in Brighton.

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