W.B. Richmond papers

RA Collection: Archive

Archive context

Showing item 54 of 73 in this group

Reference code



W.B. Richmond papers





Extent & medium

197 items

Historical Background

William Blake Richmond was born, the fifth child of George Richmond, R.A. and Julia Richmond, in 1842. His early career somewhat resembled that of his father as he entered the Royal Academy schools in 1858 before travelling the continent to study old master painting and fresco. Richmond became successful as a painter of both historical subjects and portraits. He was appointed Slade Professor of Fine Art after John Ruskin's breakdown in 1878, but resigned once Ruskin recovered. In 1888 Richmond was elected Associate of the Academy and in 1895 he was promoted to full membership. He was elected the Royal Academy's Professor of Painting for two terms, 1895-99 and 1907-11. His most visible surviving work is the mosaic decoration of the interior of St. Paul's cathedral, commissioned in 1891 and conserved in 2005.

Richmond married twice. Firstly in 1864, Charlotte Foster, who was already suffering from tuberculosis and died soon after, and secondly in 1867, Clara Richards, with whom he had six children, five of whom survived him.

Content Description

The archive consists primarily of family letters with an additional small group from friends and sitters. The archive is particularly strong in the number of letters written by Richmond to members of his family and detailing his early career, his marriage to and the death of Charlotte Foster, his recovery and marriage to Clara Richards in Italy and their subsequent life together. The latest part of the archive comprises material dated after Clara's death in a motoring accident in 1916.

The hand of E.T. Richmond appears frequently on some of the manuscripts as he spent a consider amount of time arranging and working upon them.


The archive remained in the hands of descendants until it was donated to the Royal Academy.

Acquisition Details

Donated by Sir John Richmond, K.C.M.G., the artist's grandson, in 1966.


The original donation of material from 1966 had been arranged chronologically and numbered by the donor's father, Ernest Tatham Richmond. This early arrangement had been so compromised by further additions that the whole was reorganised in 1973 by Jean Agnew. The current arrangement dates from that reorganisation.

Finding Aids

The archive was originally catalogued in June 1973 by Jean Agnew.

Associated Material

This archive carries a strong relationship with that of his father, George Richmond, R.A. (GRI) and a further donation of family papers that is yet to be catalogued.


Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; The Richmond Papers, by A.M.W. Stirling, 1926; Twenty-six Years, by Sir Arthur Richmond, 1961.