Constance Coleman Richardson grew up in Irvington, Indiana, where her father was director of the Indiana State Historical Commission. After graduating from Laurel School in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Richardson was anxious to attend art school, but her parents thought she should receive a liberal arts education. The compromise resulted in her studying at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York for two years, and then at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where she met her husband Edgar Preston Richardson. After they married, they moved to Detroit where her husband served as director of the Detroit Institute of Arts for the next seventeen years. After Detroit, the couple moved to Delaware where Edgar Richardson became director of Winterthur Museum and then to Philadelphia where he served on the Board of the Pennsylvania Academy. During this time Constance Richardson maintained her own studio and painted landscapes, portraits, and genre subjects. Much of her work was done from sketches she made while traveling during the summer. Richardson was a prize-winning artist who exhibited widely in galleries and museums.
In her series of Detroit River landscapes, Constance Richardson chose austere perspectives that often include smoking factories. This view of low fields flooded by a rain-swollen river has the grey and brown tonal harmony of a seventeenth-century Dutch landscape. The rippled water and thrusts of sunlight through the clouds enliven the horizontal composition. Richardson’s search to represent the flat, almost oceanic expanse of ground and sky characteristic of the Midwest reached full expression in March Wind, Detroit River.
Judith Vale Newton and Carol Ann Weiss. Skirting the Issue: Stories of Indiana’s Historical Women Artists, Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 2004. ISBN-13: 978-0871951779