Sir W.B. Richmond…

[Sir] W.B. Richmond had just begun his work on the mosaics covering St. Paul’s domes.  His works are amazing–yet few people even know his name.  A painter, a sculptor, a mosaic creator, Richmond was a kind, wonderfully talented man.  If  you want to see his work check out here: http://www.explore-stpauls.net/ .  It’s a virtual tour of the Cathedral.  A must see!

There is little written in the way of a biography for Richmond so I gathered all I could in his own words and works of art and pieced together the man I believe him to have been. 

Here’s an excerpt from SHARDS…

Books covered every surface, flat or otherwise. Picking up Lang’s newest book of fairy tales off the cushion of a green wing backed chair, Richmond mumbled ‘sorry old man’ before tossing it on the floor so he could sit down.  He felt bad about mistreating his friend’s hard work but he knew Andrew would understand. Blue, red, green, yellow, the fairybooks were a rainbow of stories saved from extinction. Like the pieces of glass he dealt with all day, his friend saw the colour and richness in everything in life.

It had been such a long day, as all days were at the cathedral. His head was pounding slightly from a lack of sleep and food and he closed his eyes against the pain.  Once again he had neglected to stop for tea, neglected to eat anything since the egg Clara Jane had fixed him that morning.  He relished the sweet sound of silence, the draped echoes of nothingness that reverberated around his studio; no workmen yelling at each other in cockney accents, no church official asking how the progress was coming—and more important, how much longer he would be.  Sid’s smooth voice resonated through the silence, the perfect enunciation of the Latin translation—Miss Duckworth would be proud!  How she had worked with Richmond as a child, how she hammered the declensions into his skull.  And here was this boy, no schooling to speak of, reciting Latin better than he ever could. 

            The clink of china brought him back from deep within his thoughts and he opened his eyes lazily to find Clara Jane bringing him a plate with a piece of joint, a jacket potato and peas.  A thin slice of bread slathered with white creamy butter was placed on top of it all.  Everything was fixed exactly as he liked; something she saw to herself.  She set the plate down on the small table where they took most their meals since the children had left home.  Beavor Lodge felt overwhelmingly large and empty with just the two of them. The drawing room seemed to hold echoes of Helen playing piano while Herbert sang, their laughter lingering just in the next room, no matter what room they happen to be in.  He expected to find one of the boys around every corner, head in hands as they pondered over a book or copied Punch cartoons.

2 thoughts on “Sir W.B. Richmond…

  1. Stuart Currie says:

    Very interesting to read of Beavor Lodge – have been reading biographies, one of which (Stirling) talks about Richmond’s ‘Recollections’ which she describes as ‘disjointed jottings’. I’m searching for his memoirs however disjointed – would you know of them? I’ve been on to the RA and their archivist is helpful, but its these final memoirs I should like to read. Thank you for your work, I look forward to reading the whole thing..

    1. Julie Orrok Slack says:

      Thank you! I found a few old books on line including the papers and letters between him and his father. I will look up titles and dates and let you know!

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