Earle Wilton Richardson

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Earle Wilton Richardson
Born 1912
New York, New York
Died 1935
New York, New York
Nationality American
Education National Academy of Design
Known for Painting

Earle Wilton Richardson, (1912–1935) was an African-American artist made famous mainly for an oil painting of his dating from 1934 titled Employment of Negroes in Agriculture.[1]

This now iconic picture (size 48 × 32 inches) depicts two male and one female black cotton workers in an unidentified Southern state loading cotton into bales. Like many other artworks at the time, the painting was commissioned and financed under the New Deal. Richardson committed suicide the following year. He was born and lived in New York City, NY.

"Richardson and fellow artist Malvin Gray Johnson planned to say more about the history and promise of black people in their mural series Negro Achievement, slated to be installed in the New York Public Library’s 135th Street Branch, but neither young man lived long enough to complete the project."[2]

"After Johnson's sudden illness and death in November 1934, Richardson continued to work on their mural project. But within a year he too was dead; ill with fever and heart-broken over the death of Johnson, who had been his lover, Richardson leapt from his fourth-floor apartment window and died of his injuries in December 1935." (Anreus et al., p. 136)


  • Profile of a Negro Girl, 1932
  • Benjamin Banneker, 1934
  • Columbus Soldiers—Estavanico, 1934
  • Employment of Negroes in Agriculture, 1934


  • Alejandro Anreus, Diana L. Linden, Jonathan Weinberg (Editors), The Social and the Real: Political Art of the 1930s in the Western Hemisphere, Penn State Press, 2005, ISBN 978-0-271-02691-6