William Trost Richards (1833-1905) Along the Shore

William Trost Richards ( 1833-1905)
Along the Shore
Oil on canvas
Photography by Steven Watson.
Temporary Exhibition Gallery

Description of Along the Shore

NARRATOR: The painting that you are in front of is entitled Along the Shore and was made by an artist named William Trost Richards in 1903 using oil paint on canvas. It is about 39 inches tall by 78 inches wide, which is roughly the width of an adult’s outstretched arms and on the wall, it hangs roughly about 2.5 feet over one’s head, installed tightly with other landscape paintings surrounding it. The painting depicts a dramatic seascape of waves crashing violently against rocks near the shoreline of Newport, Rhode Island. It is displayed in a gold frame that is decorated with leaves and berries on the outside border.

The scene is primarily made up of sea and sky—the ocean covers a little over half of the bottom portion of the canvas, and the stormy sky in the background covers the remaining top portion of the canvas.

[Crashing ocean waves fade in]

What makes this scene particularly dramatic is that, as viewers, we are placed in the crashing waves of the ocean instead of viewing them from the safety of the beach. We stand among three jagged rocks, which are placed in the direction of 3 o’clock, 5 o’clock, and 9 o’clock in the foreground of the painting.

The ocean is painted in subtle variations of a jade green color. Where sunlight shines through the waves, this jade color is lighter and appears almost translucent. As the ocean gets further away from us, the jade color becomes much darker. The crashing waves closest to us are lined with frothy white foam, which looks like lace against the darker green of the waves.

The sky in the top portion of the painting shows us that a storm might be heading towards us. On the left half of the canvas, there are hazy bluish-purple clouds off in the distance that connect the sky to the water, which might suggest that it is raining. On the right side of the canvas where the ocean meets the sky, we can see a small sailboat on the water, about the size of your thumbnail. Above the sailboat, we see a tiny seagull flying over the water [seagull call fades in].

[End of Stop]