William Trost Richards, “Waves at Dawn,” oil on canvas, 19 3/4 x 32 1/4 in.

In this ongoing series for Fine Art Today, we take a longer look at the history and features of a soon-to-be-available artwork of note. This week we feature a violent seascape of North Carolina provenance by one of the best.

An important American landscape artist often connected with the Hudson River School and the American Pre-Raphaelite movement, William Trost Richards (1833­-1905) produced innumerable acclaimed watercolors and paintings of marine, White Mountain, and Hudson Valley subjects.

Born in Philadelphia, Richards studied alongside German artist Paul Weber (1823­-1916) and worked as an illustrator for a metalwork company. In 1854, Richards met many of the renowned painters of the Hudson River School, something that would help shape his artistic vision. But in lieu of the romanticized and stylized approach to landscape of the Hudson River School, Richards preferred extreme naturalism and factual renderings, making many of his works appear photographic.

Today, Richards’s works are featured in many important museums, including the National Gallery, the Smithsonian American Art Museum; the Wadsworth Atheneum; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Yale University Art Gallery; the High Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Fogg Art Museum; and the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Featuring in Freeman’s June 4 “American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists” sale in Philadelphia is Richards’s “Waves at Dawn,” a stunningly beautiful and quintessential seascape produced in 1890, toward the end of the artist’s career. Richards’s faithfulness to nature has indeed come through in this piece, and one feels as though one could step into the picture. After focusing on waves as they crash and spray mist into the air in the center of the composition, we also discover a small, rocky projection toward the bottom of the canvas. There is a lovely pairing of the blue-green of the ocean with the warm, pastel hues of the sky.

Auction estimates are between $10,000 and $15,000. To learn more, visit Freeman’s.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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