Robert Clifford Rishell lived in the Oakland, CA hills with his wife and only daughter, and was affiliated with the Oakland Museum. His daughter was a freelance biological illustrator until 1988, when she became an elementary school art teacher.
He was the son of former Oakland mayor Clifford E. Rishell. He was a graduate of the California College of Arts and Crafts (B.A. and M.A.) and received adult school teaching credential from University of California, Berkeley. He was a member of the Society of Western artists. He studied under Xavier Martinez, who studied under John Singer Sargent.
Rishell organized the first showing of the Society of Western Artists at
the California Garden and Home Exposition (then the California Spring Garden
Show) in 1949 (Oakland Tribune 5/12/68). He was instrumental in starting the Oakland Museum, and remained an active participant until he died. He also painted several of the background dioramas in the Natural Sciencearea of the museum.The museum owns several of his paintings, which go on display periodically.
In 1974, Rishell was commissioned by the State of California to paint the official gubernatorial portrait of Governor Ronald Reagan, which is currently on display at the California State Capitol Museum in Sacramento, CA. According to the Oakland Tribune, March 20, 1969, Barry Goldwater purchased two Rishell paintings from a show held in a Palm Springs Gallery.
Rishell died in 1976 after a five to six-year bout with multiple myeloma. According to Rishell's widow, Dorothy, his works are owned by Bechtel, Dupont, Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan (a landscape).
Rishell's painting, "The Golden Hour", won the Popular choice award at
the Jack London Square Art Festival in September 1964.
Rishell's painting, "In the Beginning," was selected as the very first Christmas card made available to the public by the Easter Seal Society of Alameda County in 1966. This painting was originally sold by Rishell in 1964 at the Society for Western Artists annual show for $500 to the late Mr. & Mrs. William Fleming. In 1985 the painting was last estimated by Mr. Paul Bingham of Westview Gallery, San Jose, CA at $10,000 to $17,000.
"Desert Nomad" was the popular choice award at the 1967 Jack London Art
Festival, receiving the most votes from 30,000 visitors at the show.
"Grey Whiskers" was the prize winner at the 1968 Jack London Art Festival.
In 1971, Rishell won top honors at the Society of Western Artists 29th
Annual at the M.H. de Young Museum with his portrait of Maurice Logan,
Eastbay artist. (Oakland Tribune, 5/8/71)