Mary Curtis Richardson

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Portrait of Mary Blanche Hubbard, 1889

Mary Curtis Richardson (9 April 1848 in New York City – 1 November 1931 in San Francisco) was an impressionist painter and known as the "Mary Cassatt of the West". Her father, Lucien Curtis went overland to the gold fields of California in 1849. The following year, Mary, her sister Leila and her mother went to California via the Isthmus of Panama to join her father and settled in San Francisco.

Her father was a professional engraver and taught both his daughters to draw and engrave. At age 18, Mary went to New York City and attended Cooper Union for two years. She returned to San Francisco and attended the School of Design.[citation needed] In 1869, she married Thomas Richardson who came to San Francisco from Canada and was in the lumber business. He died in 1913. Mary and her sister Leila established a wood engraving studio. Mary dabbled in painting, but friends encouraged her to seriously take up painting full-time.

An impressionist, she painted landscapes but is probably best known for her portrait paintings with a mother-and-child theme. One of her highly praised paintings, "The Sleeping Child" was eventually acquired by the Legion of Honor. Another child subject, "The Young Mother" won a silver medal at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (1915).

Her other portrait work included that of David Starr Jordan (first president of Stanford University), Susan Tolman (Mrs. Cyrus) Mills, (co-founder of Mills College) and University of California language professor F. V. Paget.

Richardson was a member of the Worcester Group in the 1890s, which met regularly for informal discussions and to socialize under the leadership of Reverend Joseph Worcester (also an amateur architect). Included in this group were artists such as William Keith and Bruce Porter, architects Willis Polk, Ernest Coxhead, John Galen Howard, Charles Keeler and writer Gelett Burgess.

Mary Curtis Richardson died 1 November 1931 at her Russian Hill studio and home.

Works - partial list[edit]

  • Stephen Leach
  • Woman in Green
  • David Atkins
  • Lloyd Tevis
  • The Dunes, Carmel
  • Child and Kitten
  • Child Reading
  • Children with Donkey
  • Children Hand in Hand
  • Studies of a Baby

"Chapel Bells of Camulos -Ramona's House" "Robert Daniel Byrne"


  • Artists in California 1786 - 1940,(2002) Edan Milton Hughes
  • Artists of the American West, Vol I, Doris Ostrander Dawdy
  • Russian Hill Neighbors,
  • San Francisco Chronicle, 2 November 1931 (obit)
  • California Art Research, Vol V (1937), Work Projects Administration