William Trost Richards (1833-1905)
Woodland Glade, 1860
Oil on canvas
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Purchase with funds provided by the Council of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art
Richards was one of the first American painters to adopt what is known as the Pre-Raphaelite style. Instead of depicting vast landscapes, Pre-Raphaelites advocated painting “small portions of scenes, and thereto explor[ing] perfectly, and with the most insatiable curiosity, every object presented…with the carefulness of a topographer.”
In 1860, Richards retreated to rural Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to apply the Pre-Raphaelite method to his landscape painting. The unusual vertical format of this canvas emphasizes the transition between the particularized flora in the foreground and the hazy, sunlit hills in the background. With the treetops disappearing beyond the picture edge, the artist creates a cluster of profuse botanical detail that opens onto a secluded glade, overwhelming our eyes before drawing our attention to distant hills and sky.