Richard C.  Woodville 

Birth Year : 1822
Death Year : 1855
Country : US

Richard Caton Woodville, America's first genre artist, was born in Baltimore, the son of wealthy parents. He attended fine schools, concluding his education at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Young Woodville, did not like the idea of medicine as a profession. He spent most of his time drawing caricatures and musing before the Dutch genre paintings of the Gilmor Collection, then the finest in Baltimore. When he was twenty, he married a doctor's daughter, and his parents decided to allow him to pursue an artistic career. He went straight to Düsseldorf to study privately with Carl Ferdinand Sohn, a genre artist noted for a rather soft, sentimental style that imitated the side lighting through windows found in Vermeer. Woodville painted one work on a European subject in this technique, but since even in Europe he preferred to paint American scenes, he began to work from sketches he had brought with him. When these ran out, he returned home twice for fresh material. In addition, he would not exhibit abroad, but instead sent his works home to America as soon as they were completed. The paintings were well received, promptly purchased, and reproduced as engravings sold by the American Art Union. Woodville's paintings were well composed and excellently drawn, somber in color but with small bright touches, dramatic but rather literary and aloof, and indicative of a sense of humor that laughed at, rather than with, the subject. After five years in Düsseldorf, Woodville fell in love with a fellow student, deserted his wife, and fled to Paris with his inamorata. French art appealed to Woodville, although it had no noticeable effect upon his style, for he continued to paint Düsseldorfian genre pictures on American subjects until he died in London from an accidental overdose of drugs at the age of thirty.

Richard C. Woodville
Waiting for the Stage

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