Richter, Henry James (DNB00)

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RICHTER, HENRY JAMES (1772–1857), painter, born in Newport Street, Soho, London, on 8 March 1772, was second son of John Augustus Richter. His mother was Mary Haig. The father, a native of Dresden, was an artist, engraver, and scagliolist, and was well known for his works in imitation of marble. A brother, John Richter, was a prominent politician, and shared the reform views of John Horne Tooke [q. v.], with whom he was committed to the Tower in 1794. Another brother, Thomas, was a director of the Phœnix Life Insurance Company.

Henry was educated in the Soho and St. Martin's schools, and received his early tuition in art from Thomas Stothard [q. v.] In 1788, at the age of sixteen, he exhibited two landscapes at the Royal Academy, where he was an exhibitor for many years. He became a student at the Royal Academy in 1790. Richter, who was a versatile artist, had some skill also as an engraver, working in line, etching, and mezzotint, and he engraved some of his own works. In 1794 he was associated with his father in an edition of Milton's ‘Paradise Lost’ illustrated with engravings. He was in 1809 an exhibitor with the Associated Artists (water-colour) in Bond Street, of which society he was a member in 1810, and president in 1811 and 1812. A picture, painted by Richter in 1812, of ‘Christ giving Sight to the Blind,’ was purchased by the trustees of the British Institution for five hundred guineas. In 1813 Richter was elected a member of the Society of Painters in Oil and Water Colours (the ‘Old’ Watercolour Society). He resigned his membership in December of the same year, and up to 1820 was represented only as an exhibitor with the society. In 1821 he was again elected a member, but did not exhibit till 1823, when his name appears as an associate exhibitor. In 1826 he was a third time member, but in 1828 was only an associate exhibitor. From 1829 until his death he was both a member and a frequent exhibitor. His subjects were mainly figures of a domestic nature, or scenes from Shakespeare, ‘Don Quixote,’ and the like, which he contributed to the annuals then in vogue. His paintings, which were executed in both oil and water colours, had great popularity, and many of them were engraved. They were exhibited under such titles as ‘The Brute of a Husband,’ ‘The Gamester,’ ‘The School in an Uproar,’ and ‘A Logician's Effigy.’

Richter was a student of metaphysical philosophy, a devoted disciple of Kant, and an intimate friend of William Blake. He wrote part of the article on ‘Metaphysics’ in the ‘Encyclopædia Londinensis,’ published a paper on ‘German Transcendentalism’ in 1855, and was engaged on translating a metaphysical work by Beck at the time of his death. In 1817 he published a curious work, entitled ‘Daylight, a recent Discovery in the Art of Painting, with Hints on the Philosophy of the Fine Arts, and on that of the Human Mind, as first dissected by Emmanuel Kant;’ an octavo pamphlet of sixty-four pages, fifty-two of which are explanatory notes.

Richter died at Lisson Grove, London, on 8 April 1857, aged 85.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Roget's Hist. of the ‘Old’ Watercolour Soc.; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760–1893; information from G. Milner-Gibson-Cullum, esq., F.S.A.]

L. C.