Biography: George Richmond (1809–1896) began his artistic training studying antique casts in the British Museum. He entered the school of the Royal Academy in 1824. As a young man, he was particularly influenced by the work of William Blake (1757–1827) and joined a group of aspiring painters who were mentored by the older artist. The coterie called themselves “the Ancients” and included Edward Calvert and Samuel Palmer, among others. During the 1820s and 1830s they often gathered at Shoreham in Kent, living a simple, pious life, painting landscapes and religious subjects and attending church services.
During the 1830s Richmond earned a living through portrait painting. A regular income became a necessity after he married and became the father to fifteen children. It is as a portrait painter that he is best known, although he was more comfortable depicting the landscape.
Richmond went on to study in France for three years, followed by two visits to Italy, where he intensely studied Renaissance art. It was during the second Italian sojourn in 1840 that the young John Ruskin (1819–1900) sought out an introduction with him. Ruskin was just beginning his career as an art critic and Richmond was instrumental in guiding him in his early opinions, noting that the younger man was, “not so open to receive impressions nor does he kindle readily at the sight to the great works.” The two remained friends for life.