FREDERICK DEBOURG RICHARDS1822-1903
Realist landscape and seascape painter, photographer, and etcher Frederick DeBourg Richards was born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1822. At the age of twenty-two, Richards moved to New York City for a year, and then settled in Philadelphia, where he would remain for most of his career. He opened a daguerreotype gallery across from Independence Hall that remained in operation until 1856. The daguerreotype was an early form of photography in which the image was exposed directly onto a silver or silver-coated copper plate. One of Richards’ most famous daguerreotypes is of Henry Clay, now in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. He sold copies of his photographs, such as his popular image of Jenny Lind which he advertised in the Daguerreian Journal in 1851. In 1852 Richards developed a new model of stereoscope and in 1857 helped to pioneer the carte de visite (visiting card portrait) in the United States. He was commissioned by antiquarian Charles A. Poulson to photographically document Philadelphia’s disappearing 18th century architecture. The photographer produced approximately one hundred and twenty images of buildings, some only days before they were demolished. By 1865, however, Richards had largely given up photography in favor of painting. Though he lived mainly in Philadelphia, Richards stayed for brief periods in New York City (1844-45) and in Paris (1868), probably also traveling in Italy, as his paintings of Venice were exhibited in Philadelphia in the late 1860s. Late in the 1870s the artist bought a small gallery and studio in Anglesea (now North Wildwood) on Cape May, where he exhibited and sold his paintings and etchings of the New Jersey shore. Between 1875 and 1878 he exhibited scenes of the American West, notably California and Colorado. Most of his landscapes, however, were of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Richards was a member of the Artists Fund Society; the Philadelphia Society of Artists; and the Philadelphia Art Club. His work was exhibited at the American Institute, the American Art-Union, and the National Academy of Design, in New York; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; the Brooklyn Art Association; the Boston Art Club; the Tacoma Art League, Washington State; and the Art Institute of Chicago. Richards died in Philadelphia in 1903.