Thomas Addison Richards (1820-1900)
Richards was born in London, England, on December 3, 1820, to Ann and William Richards. The family immigrated to America in 1831, moving first to Hudson, New York, and then to Charleston, South Carolina. Around 1837 they settled in the small town of Penfield, Georgia, the original site of Mercer University, where Richards's father, a Baptist minister, served as a charter trustee. In 1838 the young
In 1841, sketchbook in hand, he left Augusta to travel around the South in search of picturesque scenes. The following year Richards and his brother, William Cary Richards, published Georgia Illustrated, which featured eleven steel engravings after Richards's closely observed topographical drawings. The brothers then collaborated on the Orion (1842-44), a monthly literary journal published in Penfield and printed in New York, for which Richards supplied stories and illustrated travel essays.
Late in 1844 Richards settled permanently in New York City, where he gave art lessons from his studio and began
Throughout the 1850s Richards penned numerous articles and books. He supplied illustrated articles based on his travels around the Northeast to Graham's Magazine (Philadelphia) and the Knickerbocker (New York). For the weekly Southern Literary Gazette, published by his brother out of Athens, Georgia, and Harper's New Monthly Magazine (New York), he submitted essays on his travels through the South. Richards enlivened his travelogues with personal anecdotes, legendary stories, tips on lodging, and engravings after his on-site drawings. Tallulah and Jocasse, a collection of Richards's short stories about the South named for two waterfalls in north Georgia, was published in 1852, and in 1854 a series of engravings after Richards's southern sketches appeared in Romance of American Landscape.
In 1857 Richards married Mary E. Anthony, an author of children's stories. Thereafter, Richards concentrated on teaching and painting. He served as the first director of the Cooper Union School of Design for Women in New York, a position he held from 1858 to 1860, and taught at New York University from 1867 to 1887. At the National Academy and Brooklyn Art Association he exhibited still lifes and landscapes, often of tranquil southern scenes. Richards died on June 28, 1900, in Annapolis, Maryland.
The Morris Museum of Art in Augusta is one of several American musuems that own and display his artwork.
Randolph Delehanty, Art in the American South: Works from the Ogden Collection (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1996).
Louis T. Griffith, "T. Addison Richards: Georgia Scenes by a Nineteenth Century Artist and Tourist," Georgia Museum of Art Bulletin 1 (fall 1974).
Mary Levin Koch, "The Romance of American Landscape: The Art of Thomas Addison Richards," Georgia Museum of Art Bulletin 8 (winter 1983).
Mary Levin Koch, Lexington, Massachusetts
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