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E.P. (Edgar Preston) and Constance Richardson papers, 1814-1996, bulk 1921-1996

Biographical Note

Art historian, museum director, and writer E. P. (Edgar Preston) Richardson (1902-1985) served as director of the Detroit Institute of Arts (1945-1962) and Winterthur Museum (1963-1966). He was also a board member of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1966-1977 and, in 1954, co-founded the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
E. P. Richardson was born in 1902 in Glens Falls, New York and died in Philadelphia in 1985. He graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts in 1925 and studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for the three years following graduation. In 1930 he became educational secretary at the Detroit Institute of Arts, was quickly named assistant director in 1933, and served as director from 1945 to 1962. He left Detroit to take the position of director of the Winterthur Museum, where he remained until 1966. Richardson married Constance Coleman in 1931. Born in Berlin, Germany in 1905, Constance Coleman Richardson was an award-winning and widely exhibited realist style painter of American landscapes. She gave up painting in the 1960s and died in 2002.
While at the Detroit Institute of Arts, E. P. Richardson co-founded the Archives of American Art with Lawrence Fleischman, and served as the Archives' first director. Richardson was also art advisor to John D. Rockefeller III for over ten years, editor of Art Quarterly from 1938 to 1967, and a member of various boards, including the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Smithsonian Arts Commission, and the National Portrait Gallery. He authored numerous books including ones on artists Washington Allston and Charles Willson Peale, and The Way of Western Art: American Romantic Painting (1939), Painting in America: The Story of Four Hundred and Fifty Years (1956), A Short History of Painting in America (1963), and American Art, an Exhibition of the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, 3d (1976).