One of Richards’s first mature Ruskinian landscapes, In the Woods helped to establish the artist as a leader of the American-Pre-Raphaelite movement. Probably painted in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania during the summer of 1860, the canvas displays the phenomenal exactitude for which Pre-Raphaelite painting was known. Nearly every detail, from the veins on the leaves in the foreground to the wrinkles of the tree bark and the individual blades of grass, is rendered as precisely as possible by the artist. Following Ruskin’s advice, Richards sought to imitate nature as closely as he was able; replicating the original pattern of God’s creation, his aim was to represent perceived truth as the highest form of artistic beauty.
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