Charles Richards 1906-1992

"Sunday Painter" by Charles Richards (New Orleans), Late 20th Century
Oil Paint
31.50 x 33.50 in
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Charles Richards was an iconic New Orleans artist whose talent is lesser known only because not as many of his paintings come up for sale as do those of more prolific painters such as George Dureau, Robert Gordy and Ida Kohlmeyer. This delightful pastoral scene is Impressionist in style, with the subject reminding me a bit of Manet's Dejeuner Sur L'Herbe. An almost Van Gogh-looking painter sits against a tree painting a voluptuous nude, in the open air.
Dimensions given include frame.

The following, submitted to AskArt on March 2003, is from Mike Warner, a friend of the artist: "Southern artist and newspaperman Charles Richards was born in 1906 in Rome, Mississippi. Richards started his career at the age of fifteen as a copy boy for the Memphis Press. In 1927 he arrived in New Orleans and took a reporting job on the New Orleans Item. Over the following decades, he reported for newspapers throughout the South and East in cities such as New Orleans, Houston, Memphis, and New York. As was common practice during the first half of the twentieth century, Richards illustrated his own newspaper stories with imaginative drawings and portraits. Richards turned to fine art full time in 1945, producing diverse works of landscapes, figures, portraiture and sculpture. New Orleans became his home base, although he continued to travel widely. His works are found in various traditional media including oil, pastel and conte. Numerous collections hold works by Richards including the Historic New Orleans Collection and the Ogden Collection." Richards died in Gulfport, Mississippi in 1992. Painting comes with a documentation of its provenance; from the collection of E. L. Borenstein.

Charles Richards

Charles Richards was born in 1906 in Rome, Mississippi. (His birth name was Charles Clifton Richards, but after meeting an unpleasant schoolmate named Clifton, he changed his name to Whitfield after a Mississippi insane asylum.) As a teenager, he was hired as a copy boy for the Memphis Press. In 1927, he moved to New Orleans and became a reporter for the New Orleans Item. For almost twenty years, he reported for newspapers throughout the South and East; he was also close to the Roosevelts because of their passion for liberal causes. Richards illustrated his stories himself, and on the side, he painted fine art; in 1943, he had a one-man show at the Delgado Museum. He suffered spells of depression, and his editor would allow him to vanish for a week or more; Richards would sit on a bench in City Park to watch the swans and recuperate.
In 1945, he quit the newspaper job and settled in New Orleans as a full-time artist. He painted still lifes, architecture, and landscapes with expressive realism, and was often commissioned for portraits from the New Orleans elite. The only influence Richards acknowledged was Frank DuMond, a teacher and American Impressionist painter. He had a close relationship with Siobhan O’Quinn, who stretched all his canvasses herself, sat for several of his paintings, and remains deeply in love with him.
Richards died in 1992, and is fondly remembered by family and by artists with whom he shared his wisdom.


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