Stephen Richards was a picture restorer. He was the son of Ann and Stephem Richards. In 1861 he was recorded in the census as a house painter. By 1871 he was working for his father as a carver and gilder; his three sisters were dressmakers. By 1881 he had moved to London. He was twice married. is second wife Emma was 43 in 1891, and her husband three years older.
According to Jacob Simon: 'In the 1881 census, Stephen Richards was lodging in Stroud Green Road, Hornsey, described as a widowed picture restorer, age 36, and in 1891 he was living at 141 Ruckledge Crescent, Willesden, as an artist in picture restoration, with his second wife Emma. He is probably the individual who died in 1900, age 56, at 12 Ampthill Square, Hampstead Road, leaving effects worth only £69. He was followed at his premises at 16 Fitzroy St by Evans & Mucklow, picture restorers.'
Whistler thought highly of his work in the 1890s, telling a dealer, E.G. Kennedy, on 13 June 1892, 'He is the only man fit to clean my paintings' (GUW #09685).
The Mayfair, St James's, Soho and Westminster Directory, London, 1888; UK census 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891.
Simon, Jacob, British picture restorers, 1600-1950, National Portrait Gallery website.