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Martha Burchfield Richter

United States
Born: Buffalo, New York, United States

Martha Elizabeth Burchfield Richter (1924-1977) was a noted watercolor artist and daughter of the internationally known artist Charles Ephraim Burchfield (1893-1967) and Bertha (née Kenreich) Burchfield. Martha and her four siblings, Mary Alice, Sally, Catherine and Arthur all learned from their parents a love of classical music and nature, especially the drama of weather and the changing of the seasons. She is primarily known for her landscapes which featured scenes of the countryside, farms or homes of the Western New York area. As a child Martha loved to draw, and her father provided plenty of materials and encouragement.

Martha studied with Philip C. Elliot (American, 1903-1985) and Florence Julia Bach (American, 1887-1978) of the Albright Art School, Buffalo for one year and later furthered her training with the help of scholarships at the Cleveland Institute of Art (her father’s alma mater) for three years. She studied with William Joseph Eastman (American, 1888-1950), Carl Frederick Gaertner (American, 1898-1952) and Paul Travis (American, 1891-1975). All of her instructors insisted that she not be influenced by her father, and told her to develop her own style. How could she not be influenced by him? “Every young artist is influenced by someone, even my father” [0], Martha once said. Charles taught her how to “see” nature on trips around the countryside to paint with him, and taught her some of his techniques. Consequently throughout her career there was a continual comparison between her work and that of her famous father that she could not escape.

In her own style, Martha painted almost exclusively in watercolor, using the dry technique over a pencil sketch. She often preferred to paint plein-air, in the open and on location, although she admitted “I’m not as brave as Dad about staying out in blizzards” [1]. Sometimes she would drive with her easel and paints in the car until she found a scene worth painting. Even though the art world at the time of the 1960’s was dominated by the abstract school of thought, Martha continued to paint realistically. Martha married Henry R. Richter, raising three children, Peggy, Tommy and David. For many years she painted in the bedroom of her home where she brought out and put away her materials each day. Subsequently a studio was built over the garage adjoining their home.


Mark Strong, Martha Elizabeth Burchfield Richter,, (Accessed 12/30/2011)