Three generations of very gifted Richters — Mischa (1910-2001), his son Dan (b 1939), and Dan’s sons Sacha (b 1968) and Mischa (b 1971) — have traveled in Provincetown orbits at some point or other. This was the home of Mischa grand-père for the last 23 years of his life. (A profile appears on Provincetown Artist Registry.) The most nationally renowned of the family group, Mischa Richter was a cartoonist for The New Yorker from 1942 to 2000, whose work tended toward the gently sly, like two dogs, dressed in business suits and standing upright in front of a door with a “No Dogs Allowed” sign on it. Says one to the other, “We’ve got a class-action suit if ever I saw one.” (A selection of his work can be seen on The Cartoon Bank.) The cartoon editor of The New Yorker said at the time of Richter’s death: “He was a joyous man and was bubbling over with ideas. Bubbled throughout his life.”
Less widely known was that Richter was an accomplished and confident abstract painter. He had come to the United States as a boy from Kharkov, Ukraine, and studied at the Boston Museum School and Yale University. His first professional artistic assignment was as a muralist for the Works Progress Administration in Boston. His wife, Helen Sinclair Annand Richter (1912-1992), was also a painter. Richter first set foot in town in the late 1920s but did not become involved with the local art scene in earnest until the 1950s, when he joined the Beachcombers and bought a house. The Richters spent many of their earlier years in Provincetown at 6 Cook Street.
The house was constructed around 1910 by Henry Joshua Winslow (1880-1963) and Grace (Davenport) Winslow (1877-1970). “After camping in the area, my grandparents … bought the large lot (double or triple) and had a summer house and a garage built there at 457 Commercial Street,” Katharine Winslow Herzog wrote in 2018. “They spent summers there with their son Henry D. Winslow, my father. They owned a sailboat called the Tamerlane, named after the New Bedford whaling ship the Tamerlane, captained by Joshua Baker Winslow. They sailed her in Provincetown Harbor. The Tamerlane was quite well known. People still tell fearsome tales of my grandmother ringing a bell and telling people to stay off of that boat! On the off season, they stored the Tamerlane in the garage/boat house, now made into a house with the address of 455 Commercial Street. Later, they were frequently joined their by their grandchildren Henry N. Winslow, Philip N. Winslow, and me, then Katharine G. Winslow. After my grandparents died, my father sold the house and a few years later sold the Tamerlane.”
The Richters bought the property from George Bryant in 1978. No. 457 occupies the same tax lot as No. 459, where Daniel and Sacha Richter have home and studio. (Mischa petit-fils is at home in the Harry Kemp cottage on Tasha Hill.) Collectively, the properties are known as the Moonwatcher Condominium.