Exhibitions: "Under the Open Sky": Landscape Sketches by Nineteenth-Century American Artists

William Trost Richards: Woodland Boulders

William Trost Richards (American, 1833–1905). Woodland Boulders, circa 1877–78. Watercolor over graphite on paper. Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Mrs. William T. Brewster through the National Academy of Design, 53.228

The Brooklyn Museum owns a large cache of paintings, watercolors, and sketchbooks by Richards, a selection of which is included in this exhibition. A prolific artist, leading member of the American Pre-Raphaelites, and a lifelong practitioner of plein air sketching, Richards depicted a wide array of landscape subjects ranging from panoramic vistas to close-up nature studies. This masterly watercolor resembles Asher B. Durand's intimate forest interiors that focus on moss-covered boulders thrust into the foreground of the composition. Like Durand, Richards was devoted to direct observation of geological and botanical details and the belief that God's presence existed everywhere in nature, even in humble rocks.