Several years ago I was planning a painting that had big rock cliffs and crashing waves, and went googling for technique inspiration. I found an artist I’d never heard of – William Trost Richards. He’s been one of my favorite landscape artists ever since. Look at these, they’re watercolors! He worked in oils as well, but his watercolor and gouache works are what really get me excited.

William Trost Richards, A Rocky Coast, 1887, Watercolor and gouache on fibrous brown wove paper, 28 1/8 x 36 1/4 in

William Trost Richards, Tintagel, 1881, Watercolor on paper mounted onto board, Sheet size: 23 1/16 x 36 7/8 in.

William Trost Richards, Lake Squam from Red Hill, 1874, Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on light gray-green wove paper, 8 7/8 x 13 9/16 in.

There are more great, huge digital images of Richards’s work on the Met’s website here.

Richards had a business setup that many artists would envy – his wealthy patron George Whitney financed Richards’ travels, and in gratitude for Whitney’s financial support Richards sent tiny watercolors, often around 3×5 inches (the two of them called the tiny paintings “Coupons“). There are 110 of these, and they’re now owned by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and are collected in the book A Mine Of Beauty: Landscapes by William Trost Richards.