Portrait miniature of a Lady in a striped dress
Christian Richter (1678-1732)
“Richter’s style was highly achieved, realizing successfully his sitter’s character through a combination of faultless drawing and freedom of touch…”
Watercolour on vellum
Oval, 3 1/8 inches, 7.9cm high
Richter was born into a family of artists in Stockholm, Sweden in 1678, the son of Hans Davidson Richter, assessor of the Goldsmith’s corporation there, and brother of landscape painter Johann Richter and the medallist Bengst Richter. Richter quickly found his feet, learning initially the goldsmith craft followed by medal engraving under Arvid Karlsteen. By 1700 Richter is believed to have been studying under Elias Brenner, the leading Swedish miniaturist of the age. Richter soon proceeded to Berlin then Dresden, seeking patronage by utilising contacts from previous acquaintances. Arriving in London in 1704, he quickly established himself as a miniaturist, cleverly seizing the opportunity to replicate the work of contemporaries such as Hans Hysing and Michael Dahl, who would have been eager to expand their own reputation. We can gather through Vertue’s notebooks that Richter and Dahl developed an emphatic bond- most likely due to their shared native land, and the latter; “…encouraged him & promoted him all he cou’d by which means he became really an excellent Master…really better than any of his contemporaries”
We can establish further through the invaluable notebooks of Vertue that by 1714-15, Richter, along with “Mr Bernard Lens…[and] Mr Zincke enameller”, dominated the market in London for miniature painting. Richter’s style was highly achieved, realizing successfully his sitter’s character through a combination of faultless drawing and freedom of touch,best demonstrated in the captivating portrait of Eleanor Brownlow (V&A Museum, London).
Soon after 1715 however, Richter developed a terrible illness which left him with facial disfiguration, and he began to be increasingly withdrawn. No longer feeling capable to paint from life, Richter took to concentrating on replicas of portraits by the prominent painters of the day. Among the artists who Richter sought to copy were Van Dyck, Lely, Dahl and Kneller.
Vertue, Note Books. 3.25.
Vertue, Note Books. 3.76.