Ferdinand Richardt

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Ferdinand Richardt (1819-1895) Mission San Jose in 1880

Ferdinand Richardt was born and educated in Denmark, where he had an early success as a painter of Scandinavian castles and landscapes. He came to America in the summer of 1855, going directly to Niagara Falls where he took numerous studies in oil and in pencil. The following summer he returned to Niagara and by 1857 was able to hold an exhibition of Niagara paintings in New York City that was praised in the newspapers. The art journal, The Crayon, noted: “The artist has availed himself of every point of interest, far and near about the Fall…, including separate studies of its peculiar features, like the rapids, the islands, various sections of the river, and buildings on its banks…” (January, 1857, pp. 28-29). In this work, Richardt has chosen to emphasize the ominous power of the scene, depicting several downed trees that have been washed out of the torrent. The dog in the foreground is there to remind the viewer of the sad fate of one Francis Abbott, the hermit of Luna Island who was washed over the falls while taking a bath in the river. His mangled body was discovered two days later near the Whirlpool by his pet dog, who, according to the legend, howled in sorrow at the sight of his drowned master

(Biographical information courtesy of Melinda Young Stuart).