RICHARDSON, EDWARD MALLCOTT, sculptor and landscape painter; b. 21 May 1839 at London, England, son of Edward Richardson and Eliza Austen; last known to be living in 1865.
The father of Edward Mallcott Richardson was a London sculptor and restorer of monumental effigies, and presumably he instructed his son in his own skills. In addition, the younger Richardson claimed in 1864 to have articled in England to a surveyor on the Great Northern Railway (opened in 1852) “for three years previously to taking to painting. . . .” “While I was with him,” Richardson added, “he was engaged in the Grand Surrey Canal Docks and one or two minor railways &c.”
In June 1859 Richardson was accepted as a probationer in the Royal Academy Schools, and he entered the School of Painting in London as “a life student” on 21 Dec. 1859. He was, he said, “for three years a pupil of Sir George Hayter, principal historical painter” to the queen. At that period the Royal Academy studentship was for seven years, but on 6 June 1862 Richardson left London for Vancouver Island aboard the steamer Tynemouth. On 19 Sept. 1862 he arrived in Victoria, and soon afterwards designed and executed an 18-foot-high stone monument erected in the local cemetery to the memory of John D. Carroll. The truncated and moss-grown remains of this once “handsome monument . . . in the Gothic style . . . most carefully finished in every part” may still be identified in Pioneer Square, adjoining Christ Church Cathedral.
During the mining season of 1863 Richardson sketched along the Harrison-Lillooet trail to the Cariboo goldfields, and in 1864 he was painting in Victoria. But the prosperity stimulated by the spectacular gold strikes of 1860–62 was fast receding, and the future for an artist was far from bright. On 18 May 1864 Richardson applied to the committee then organizing the Vancouver Island exploration party under Dr Robert Brown* “for the appointment of Artist . . . but should [the] committee decide on not sending an Artist as well as an Assistant Surveyor I would offer to undertake both duties.” His application was unsuccessful. He is last heard of in the spring of 1865 when the newspapers reported that on 6 May he would hold a raffle of his paintings, which were said to be “valuable, and executed with a rare fidelity to nature and finished off with much care and artistic taste.”
In all probability Richardson was one of the many adventurous young men who in 1862 threw up their prospects at home to join the flood of immigrants to British Columbia, victims of the highly optimistic, and highly unscrupulous, reports on the gold colony from the anonymous and persuasive pen of Donald Fraser*, the Victoria correspondent of the London Times.
Three of E. M. Richardson’s water-colours are at PAC, Picture Division, and four are at PABC. Greater London Record Office, All Souls, Langham Place, London, Register of baptisms, entry for E. M. Richardson. PABC, Robert Brown coll., E. M. Richardson to the committee of the [Vancouver Island] exploration party, 18 May 1864. Royal Academy of Arts (London), Students’ register. Somerset House (London), General Registry Office, birth certificate of E. M. Richardson. Frederick Whymper, Travel and adventure in the territory of Alaska, formerly Russian America – now ceded to the United States – and in various other parts of the north Pacific (London, 1868). Daily British Colonist (Victoria), 19 Sept. 1862, 28 March 1863, 6 May 1865. Vancouver Times (Victoria), 5 May 1865. Victoria Daily Chronicle, 28 March 1863. J. R. Harper, Early painters and engravers; Painting in Canada, a history (Toronto, 1966).