April 17th, 2023
Written by Devon Lewars
Wilmer Siegfried Richter was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1891. Growing up, Richter’s interest and talent for drawing were pushed aside by his father who insisted Wilmer and his brother learn the violin and piano. He credits his mother and ninth-grade teacher for pushing him to study art professionally. At 18, Richter secured a job in a photo-engraving art department. He went on to study illustration while traveling across the U.S., throughout Cuba, and along the Panama Canal. When Wilmer returned to Philadelphia, World War I was already in progress. He would eventually be drafted into the infantry and sent to France with no training. In 1918, he was wounded and spent a considerable amount of time at the base hospital before he was sent home with other wounded men. Richter returned to the U.S. with a collection of 5×8 drawings of the war and other street scenes. Wilmer was 102 when he passed in 1993.
Now displayed in the Stealey Manuscripts Reading Room in the WVRHC is one of Richter’s watercolor paintings titled “Sunlight and Shadows-Pennsylvania Farm.” Also having been born in Pennsylvania amongst the rolling hills, the painting captures the warmth and beauty of rural farms that remind me of home. His use of blues, yellows, and greens pairs beautifully, while a curious deer peeks out between the trees.