Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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RICHARDS , FREDERICK CHARLES ( 1878 - 1932 ), artist ;

b. at Newport, Mon. , 1 Dec. 1878 , the youngest of the three sons of Edwin Kemp Richards , butcher . He attended an elementary school and remained on as a pupil teacher under Abraham Morris , a well-known headmaster . He took classes at the local school of art and spent summer holidays training in studios at S. Ives and Bruges . In 1909 he cut loose from school teaching and with a scholarship went to the Royal College of Art , South Kensington . Hitherto he had thought of himself as a painter in colour , and it was a surprise to his friends when he turned to etching as his chief interest, a decision largely due to his teacher , Sir Frank Short . In 1911 Richards exhibited for the first time at the Royal Academy ; then followed the diploma of the Royal College of Art and the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Painters-Etchers .

In 1911 he was commissioned by Sir Alfred T. Davies , permanent secretary of the Welsh Department of the Board of Education , to copy Sir Edwin Poynter 's cartoon of S. David for the Ceiriog Memorial Institute , and in 1913 Messrs. Adam and Charles Black invited him to make drawings for the Oxford Sketch Book . This was the first of a series of reproductions of pencil drawings of great delicacy and refinement which embraced Eton and Windsor , Florence , Venice , Rome , and other places, and attained wide popularity. Richards had notable skill in lettering , especially in adapting the Roman type of the Trajan Column to printing, and he executed many S. David's Day booklets for the Board of Education , rolls of honour, certificates issued to soldiers by the Army Council , and work for the Baynard Press . In 1918 he prepared a report for the Central Welsh Board on the teaching of art in the intermediate schools of Wales . In 1920 he joined the staff of the College of Art , conducting courses for intending teachers . In 1927 he left the college and made his headquarters in Egypt and for the next four years he worked at subjects in the Near East , holding exhibitions at Alexandria and Teheran and presenting twenty-one of his Oriental etchings to his native town. He returned to London in the autumn of 1931 and in a few months wrote A Persian Journey , issued in Nov. with forty-eight illustrations drawn during his nine months in Persia . The strain of his travels by car, camel, and plane, and the rapid preparation of his book, proved too great for his strength and he d. in Hampstead General Hospital , 27 March 1932 .

Richards was a true artist , who lived simply in a modest Chelsea flat, was much beloved and extremely generous. He is commemorated by collections of his work in the Newport Art Gallery , the National Museum of Wales , Cardiff , and the Victoria and Albert Museum , London .


  • W. J. T. Collins , Artist-Venturer the life and letters of Fred Richards (Newport, 1948) ;
  • personal knowledge.


Thomas Jones, C.H., M.A., Ll.D., (1870-1955), Aberystwyth / Birchington, Kent

Published date: 1959