William Blake Richmond (1842-1921)

Sir William Blake Richmond KCB, RA, PPRBSA (29 November 1842 – 11 February 1921) was a portrait painter, sculptor and a designer of stained glass and mosaic. He is best known for his portrait work and decorative mosaics in St Paul's Cathedral in London. Richmond became a successful portrait painter at an early age. In 1861, at the age of 19, he exhibited his first major work for the Royal Academy of Arts. The painting, a portrait of his two brothers was highly praised by Ruskin. That year, Richmond continued to work in portraits, and study anatomy at St. Bartholomew's Hospital. Richmond's widely regarded portraits led to several commissions, a few which took him to the north of England for several months. Richmond was elected to the Royal Academy in 1861, where he continued to exhibit his work until 1877. In 1866, Richmond returned to Italy, where he lived in Rome for four years and studied art. While in Italy, he met painters Frederic Leighton and Giovanni Costa, both of whose work he admired. When Richmond returned to England, he exhibited A Procession in Honor of Bacchus at the Royal Academy in 1869. In 1877, Richmond left the Royal Academy and began exhibiting his paintings with the Grosvenor Gallery, where he exhibited until 1878. In 1878 Richmond became Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford University, succeeding Ruskin. During his tenure, Richmond was responsible for 12 lectures a year at the school. A few lectures Richmond gave on his favorite artist Michaelangelo led to a serious conflict with Ruskin, who had little regard for Michaelangelo. The disagreement between the two men led Richmond to resign his position five years after taking it up, although he and Ruskin were able to continue their long standing friendship. Richmond travelled often to Italy, Greece, Spain and Egypt in the 1880s. He would spend a few months each year exploring new areas, absorbing the history and mythology of the region, and making numerous drawings and coloured sketches.In 1888, Richmond resumed his relationship with the Royal Academy when he was elected Associate Member (ARA), and was then further elected Royal Academician (RA) in 1895. He served as Professor of Painting at the Academy from 1895 to 1899 and from 1909 to 1911, and continued to exhibit with the Academy until 1916. He was elected Senior RA at the Academy in 1920. Richmond was influential in the early stages of the Arts and Crafts Movement in his selection of bold colours and materials for the Cathedral mosaics and in his collaboration with James Powell and Sons, glass makers, in creating new colours and materials.  Richmond was the Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Oxford from 1878 to 1883, succeeding his friend and mentor John Ruskin.
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