Richard Henry Recchia was born in Quincy, Massachusetts on November 20th 1885 to Frank and Rosa Louisa Recchia. Frank Recchia was a marble carver and, in the European tradition, instructed little "Ricardo" in his craft. Richard, who was the oldest of five children, took to sculpture and attended the Boston Museum School of Fine Art from 1904 to 1907. While attending school he helped out in Bela Lyon Pratt's studio and, after graduating in 1907, continued to work for him until 1912.
Bela Lyon Pratt and Daniel Chester French, who were his major mentors dring this time, both encouraged Recchia to go to Europe. They provided him with financial aid for the trip though they had decidedly different opinions about where he should go. While French reminded him that he needed "the influence of Paris much more than that of Rome", Pratt stated that he should spend a lot of time in Rome. It appears that Recchia followed French's advice more than Pratt's.
In 1915, while living in Paris, Richard married Anita "Ana" Diaz, a young woman who was originally from Chile. They had two children, Richard E. in 1914 and Phyllis Anita "Felicia" in 1917. According to Richard Recchia's oral history recording, Ana died in 1926, though his recollection seems to be at odds with other records.
In 1926 he moved to Rockport and in 1927 he married his second wife, Mary Catherine Parsons, known as "Kitty". She had been born in Stratford, Connecticut in 1889 but the family had moved to Rockport, Massachusetts where the couple would spend the rest of their days. Kitty was a watercolor artist and poet and very active in the Rockport Art Association, of which she was a founding member. She died in July 1975.
His works include the Statue of John Stark (1948), Head of a boy, and Young Pan playing a flute (1956).
Richard survived both his wife Kitty and his two children and died in Rockport, Massachusetts in 1983. He carved his own tombstone and is buried under it at the Beech Grove Cemetery in Rockport.
Richard Recchia Bio
place of birth: United States of America , Quincy
place of death: United States of America , Rockport
RemarksANA 1941; NA 1944
Recchia's father, a native of Verona, Italy, was a marble carver who had worked for Bela Pratt and Daniel Chester French, and it was in his father's studio that the younger Recchia had his earliest training. He took his formal training with Pratt at the school of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from 1904 to 1907, and then stayed on as Pratt's assistant until early in 1912. Under the patronage of Pratt and French, he went to Paris where he remained until the end of the year.
On his return to Boston, he rejoined Pratt in his Boston studio and continued to serve as his apprentice for another five years. Recchia's first major commission, allegorical panels representing architecture for the exterior of the Museum of Fine Arts, was executed during this period and he soon became known as a competent carver in relief. His success was further assured when, in 1915, he won medals for several works exhibited at San Francisco's Panama-Pacific Exposition.
Recchia specialized in portraiture and figural pieces for gardens. Examples of these are his relief portrait of Robert Brown for Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, and a bronze cast of his garden sculpture, Baby and Frog, 1923, in Brookgreen Gardens, South Carolina. On a monumental scale, he created the equestrian General John Stark for the city of Manchester, New Hampshire, winning the commission in competition with eighty-three other sculptors.
On a more whimsical note, he sculpted Mother Goose for the Rockport (Massachusetts) Carnegie Library, and illustrated a number of children's books written by his wife, Kitty Parsons. In 1928, Recchia established his home and studio in Rockport, Massachusetts, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life. He remained an active participant in Boston art life, was a founder of the Boston Society of Sculptors, a charter member of the Guild of Boston Artists, and a member of the Rockport Art Association, the North Shore Arts Association, and the National Sculpture Society. Recchia was a frequent exhibitor at the Academy from his first appearance in an annual in 1909. Among his numerous awards was the Academy's Watrous Gold Medal conveyed in the annual exhibition of 1944.
The Recchia Home, 6 Summer St., Rockport, 1906
Posted on February 15, 2014 by Robert Ambrogi
Everyone in Rockport knows the iconic statue of a baby riding a frog that stands adjacent to the Rockport Art Association on Main Street. The sculptor and portrait artist who created that piece, Richard H. Recchia, and his wife, the writer and artist Kitty Parsons Recchia, lived in this home at 6 Summer St., where they also built a studio. The Recchias called the house “Hardscrabble.” Both the home and the studio are still there.
Recchia’s “Baby and Frog” is outside the Rockport Art Association. Another version is in Brookgreen Gardens in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
The house was built in 1837, according to online real estate records. Parsons, who was born in 1889 in Stratford, Conn., first lived here with her family before she met Recchia. Her family summered in Gloucester before they moved to this house. They probably already lived here when this photograph was taken. In fact, the postcard is signed, “Kitty,” and could have come from her.
It was in Rockport that Parsons met her future husband. Recchia was born in 1885 in Quincy, Mass. His father, a marble carver from Verona, Italy, taught the young Recchia to sculpt. From 1904 to 1907, Recchia attended the school of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and continued to work there until 1912 as an assistant to the sculptor Bela L. Pratt. It appears that he moved to Rockport sometime around 1926 and married Kitty in 1927.
(Before he came to Rockport, he was married to another woman, Anita, who he met while living in Paris, and with whom he had two children. In this oral history recording from 1978, he said that he was married to Anita until 1926, when she died. However, his recollection of some dates does not always comport with other records.)
One of his best-known works is the mammoth statue of Revolutionary War hero General John Stark that stands near his grave in Manchester, N.H. His statue “Mother Goose” stood in the children’s room of the old Carnegie Library until it closed in 1993. (I can find no record of where the statue went after that.) His bronze statue of a woman about to dive stands behind the Rockport Art Association. For many years, it was in his studio and then in his yard.
Kitty Parsons was a founding member of the Rockport Art Association in 1920 and editor of Artists of the Rockport Art Association published in 1940. Other books she wrote include Dogtown Commons (1936), Buccaneer Ballads and Legends of Cape Ann and Essex County (1944), Gloucester Sea Ballads: True Tales of Fishermen (1948), and Christmas Offering (1956).
Kitty Parsons died in 1975. Recchia continued to live in the house until his death in 1983. He is buried at Rockport’s Beech Grove Cemetary, under a tombstone he carved for himself before his death.
"The Golden Age": A Fine Piece of Sculpture from Boston Boy of 23] August 8, 1909
THE SCULPTOR who has just completed "The Golden Age" is Boston born and bred, barely 23, and only three years out of the Museum of Fine Arts school, His name is Richard Recchia. He is the son of Frank Recchla, the cutter in marble who does practically all the atone work of the Boston sculptors..
This Is young Reechia's first big effort. Already it has compelled marked attention, so much so. in fact that those persons who have bad the pleasure of looking at it do the maker the honor of ignoring his age. "The Golden Age" represents a nude boy lying flat on a rock gazing off into space, It is a careless, dreamy pose, and conveys its own message of spirituality and loveliness. It Is aptly named, for the face of the child reflects the mystery and beauty of the universe that stretches far be-yond the borders of known things.
More than that, there is the soul of a child in the lovely face uplifted so gracefully from the edge of the rock. If you ask young Reccbla what it is that he has tried to put there, he will tell you that it is the curiosity and the innocence of young people who lived in the golden age, For all that was in mythological times, when youth dreamed of the beautiful and the mysterious of the world, and nothing else mattered. And so this youth of Recchia's 'concep-tion has thrown himself into a comfort-able position and is locking off into the vast unknown, wondering what Is there and enthralled by the vision of what may be_ It stands at the present time in Rec-chta's studio in the school building ad-joining the Museum on Huntington ave-I nue_
The sculptor says it is not yet quite finished_ Now and then. as the I spirit moves. the sculpture receives here and there a loving touch of perfection. It will presently be cast in bronze and ent in marble—the preference of the sculptor being for the latter and the pleas of friends urging the metal. When the time comes for the work in I "stone. young Recchia .himself will chip off the remaining rough corners, des- I terously duplicate this or that love/el line and put the last subtle touch of , expression into the features. For here i is one of the few American sculptors_ I young or old, of the present day who can snot only mould the clay, but also cut the stone.
That Is a heritage from Recchia., Sr., just as in all probability something of i the young man's temperament and talent is also inherited. The father learned the trade of marble cutting in Milan. Italy, and in his experience of over a score of years has done work on much notable sculpture. It is he who chisels in the stone so many of the beautiful figures of Prate French, Kitson and other sculptors of note. The first pencil studies of "The Golden Age" were begun about four months ago. They show a considera-ble variance with the completed figure, most noticeable to the position of the boels ..-1 .-ms and in the expression of the face. As the conception grew clearer and clearer in the sculptor's mind, line after line disappeared, ev-ery alteration making for greater del-icacy, grace and subtlety.
There were difficulties to be over-come always. Reechia will show you the droop of one shoulder and the slightly raised position of the other, a harmony of lines resulting in in-creased action. Here was a figure prone on a rock. How could he ex-press its complete ease without sacri-ficing the vitality of childhood? How could he eliminate the negligible from the restfulness? How could he obtain. too, that technical triangle of lines which the art of sculpture strives so frequently and laboriously to effect and ends merely by affecting?
And so when one iooks upon the figure that sinks so elegantly and sim-ply into the rock, one pays Recchia the compliment of overlooking many Hale details of technique which, hav-ing had much to do with bringing out his conception, have ended. sr skilful is the artist's technique, in effacing themselves from the layman's gaze. Had the body turned ever so little at . I i 'this point, then would have come stiff-ness. ness. Into the reposeful attitude that t ' is so delicate in its abandon and inno-•- • sense would have come clumsiness and awkwardness. It is not hard to imagine ' what a contrast they would have made I with the impressive suggestions of life I elsewhere in the figure. Evolving from the pencil studies were Innumerable de-tails of attitude, some consciously per-ceived and understood. others merely felt
So. when you question the sculptor about his ways and means of the task. the cannot answer every question save i by Indicating the figure and saying quite I simply: "That is what I tried to do. You must let It tell you itself. His medium of expression, he means, is sculpture. and not spoken words. "The Golden Age" is the first fulfilment of some prophecies which were frequently made when Recchia was an; art student and had a habit of winning' prizes and mentions at the exhibitions of the Museum school. In his senior year hr became conspicuous by getting the Kimball prize, Those were the days when Recchia was simply making studies. The head of an athlete, now a casual reproduction in clay of a symmetrical masculine or nude feminine, that was the extent of his knowledge, Together with this elementary work was a little practice now and then in his father's shop in Cambridge street. Cambridge. Recchia's father used to say that If his son in-tended to grow up a sculptor ha must learn to cut it the stone.
What with working in the clay. assisting Bela Pratt in his under-takings and chiselling oftener and oftener, young Recchla has spent the greater part of his first three years away from the art school very profit- ably. In addition to -The Golden Agee" he has produced a number of busts and bas-reliefs which have served to indi-cate quite clearly to his friends his better, and better grasp on his medium of expression. About two years ago he did a heroic [ figure of the late F. 8, Tomeo. an achievement of no mean quality. It stands In the Malden Catholic ceme-tery, and is easily one of the most im-posing stones in that locality, A cer-tain well defined ruggedness and sim-! pl:city about it would give It distinc-tion even though it were hot brought sharply in contrast with much that is commonplace and unrestrained. Two excellent examples of Reechia's bas relief sculpture are the profile Ten-! derings of the features of the late Rev. George T, Mahoney of Woonsocket, a I., and the late Edward Webster Dale of Boston. That of the former shows sturdy lines thoroughly in keeping with the char-acter of the subject. The marble like-ness is nearly completed and will pres-ently be turned over to the parishoners of the deceased priest. The Dale bas relief exists in both bronze and marble. In this instance Recchia himself did the chiselling, His attention in the last 12 months 'Jae !also been occupied with two ideal heads. I One, he calls Athene: the other, merely a study of the girl's head. The first named is in marble. Ilse sec-ond is still in cloy; but b destined presently to be put into plaster and then reproduced in stone.
The Athene may be described briefly as a lovely head rising from a block of 1 rough stone. It is classical in linea-ment, and despite a certain resemblance tc- the- conventional has Its own grace and softness, The Athene is pleasant. agree:thee.' arsi delicate. Recchla might! have,yielded quite easily to the tertipt:Z-1 tion to prettify. but here again, adher- ' ing faithfully to his own ideas, he has produced a sweet and grave-faced ALh-ene. And in this piece of stone as in everything else he has done he has in his own subtle fashion not merely indicated. but imparted live-ness. Strangely enough this mere nov-lee of a sculptor does not know how to make stone seem cold. ,i
Perhaps tile severest composition! which has come from his hands Is a -ilearly completed study In the ideal. i Just a Head." he vaguely deslgeates, " It-"a study of an ideal head." it 'en't i what the casual on-looker would calk 1. head beautiful. in the sense of physical-Ey fine; bnt one here notes character; expressed, maybe, in the firmly held jaw. the tightly shut lips an] the calm, contemplative gaze. Withal. this is soft-ened by the arched eyebrows, the sug-gestion of dimple in the chin. the light poise neat„ of the nee No matter what Recchla attempts +le youth In him will permit of r 0 actual ugliness: the strength 0- 7,- ;e0.4t ans Is invariably acceemssf ire '.; settlement. In ^e Pot of Basil." still another reeent cie.tion-indeed :t was not completed anttl the last week-you meet . with sub-tiny that is poetic in its mood. Thii is the tragedy of Keats' Poem of Isabella. and the sculptor has caught the girl in a wistful attitude. Grief is a word too hand. too blunt ti apply to it. There Ls a little of longing. a little of reverie, something of approaching sadness- It dots not explicitly bespeak, it merely foretells, the maid's unhappi-ness,
These are the pathetic lines which Recchia has tried to express in his figure: She .^..* 4 no know:edge when the day R33 t i.one. And the new morn she SS •C not: b3t in peace Hung over sweet Bas'i evermore. :And moheee'd It with tears unto the core_ "The Pot of Basil" is a DAS relief of 1=2211 dimensions. One arm is thrown out. curving carelessly about the ves-1sel. But that is not the source of the effect_ Recchia sums up the whole mood in the droop of the head. The rest is 'done lightly, without sufficient emphasis i to distract attention from the head. neck and shoulder. Not this particular thought, but the expression of it, is his originality. A risky subject, some might say for a young sculptor, because so often does clay in his hands go to the prettifying, pseudo-realistic or to the grotesque and abnormal.
But here Is a sensible young 1 man, born and brought up in the United States. who cultivates neither the pseu-do aesthetic nor its boon companion, the lbohemian. it happens that he regards his art quite normally, as some-thing to be revered and cherished, but 2 never to be undignified or otherwise made to serve unworthy or stupid pur-poses. "I do not understand." he says, dep-recating the ability of a mere beginner. to take up the big subject of sculpture -"I do not understand why it should be necessary to put the morbid into clay or stone. Heaven knows, this is a pretty fine world, and one would rather think of and see pleasant things than the other kind. Speaking only for my-self I'd rather deal with pleasant things. I prefer to avoid the morbid.'
Then too. 'Recchla is a recent school graduate who has kept his head. He I hasn't much theory to express in words, and he doesn't go about in a velvet jacket or wear long hair. He Is an emi-nently presentable, well set up young i man of 23 years. who, if you saw him 1 walking down the street might iliitpress iyou as being a recent A. B. man from ine of the colleges, engaged perhaps., in any one of a dozen pursuits In the everyday woekaday world, He is intensely interested in his work, but out of his studio can find time to talk about something else_ If the per-sonal pronoun exists, it has not yet lo-cated itself in his vocabulary- he has escaped the dangers of close familiarity with its capacity for Use- Of Italian de-scent he is, nevertheless. American in his manner speech and general points of view. .
There are two Recchias-the Recchia of casual confab and the Recchia of the I studio. In front of "The Golden Age" 1 or the "Pot of Basil'• you see the in-tense student of his art_ moulding this line and that curve with a concen-tration that amounts to obliviousness of ; external activities. He works with eagerness, rapidity and precision. Thanks to his training at the Museum] and in Bela Pratt's studio, he feels sure that he is. going to do better and better work_ -The Golden Age." he says, is an effort to express what he has long wanted to put in stone, but, lacking the experience, did not previously dare to attempt it And so with "The Pot of Basil." And so with the work to come-other representations of -The Golden Age." which he has in his head_
Frog to receive a facelift
Rockport Ramblings All Hands Sep 23, 2016
The Town Art Committee, with money provided through Community Preservation Act funds, is preparing to begin conservation on the much beloved Baby and Frog sculpture by Richard Recchia, located next to the Rockport Art Association & Museum at 12 Main St.
The sculpture was a gift to the town by the artist’s estate in 1984.
Members of the art committee wanted to share the news with the public if they notice something going on there.
The work will take a couple of weeks to complete on site.
“A review of the patina of another copy of this sculpture and of another Recchia sculpture on exhibition at Brookgreen Gardens in Myrtle Beach, S.C., suggests that the desired patina should be an underlying layer of black with an overlay of verdigris on the highlights of the piece,” according to a press release.
An excerpt from the condition report noted that the surface of the sculpture — which is not protected by any coating — is being actively corroded.
“The patina has been worn away in areas of frequent contact with visitors, such as the upper arms and face and has reversed the play of highlights in these areas,” according to the report. For example, the forehead should be lighter in color than the surroundings, but it is a dark brown, and the inside of the mouth should be dark, but it is light green.
After a lengthy search, the art committee hired an experienced conservator, Barbara Mangum of Sculpture and Decorative Arts Conservation Services in Somerville, to do the work.
- Richard Recchia bio
- "The Golden Age": A Fine Piece of Sculpture from Boston Boy of 23 August 8, 1909
- Frog to Receive Facelift
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