About the Artist
New Jersey-born artist Richard A. Botto is recognized as an equine painter of champion horses. Currently living and working in his studio in Northern New Jersey, Botto has completed numerous paintings for owners, trainers, drivers and many associations in the equine world. His work includes pleasure, farm, paddock and racehorses. He paints all breeds. Botto’s artistic background provided him with the ability and the interest to work endlessly to attain his goals.
Botto has the good fortune of a very creative Italian ancestral background. His artistic heritage is evident on both sides of his family tree. His Mother’s genealogical history (Bagnoli & Vaccai) reveals that both his great-grandfathers, Oreste Vaccai, and his son Gino Vaccai were mural painters in Livorno, Italy. A later descendent, Louis Bagnoli was a mural painter and restorer in the United States. While Oreste and Gino were painting murals in the churches in the Tuscany region of Italy, his Great-Grandfather Bernardo and his son Pietro Botto were doing similar mural work in the Piedmont countryside of Biella, Italy. Pietro and his wife Maria Botto eventually moved to Haledon New Jersey, north of Paterson, the heart of the silk industry. Their home became the meeting place for 20,000 workers during the 1913 strikes in Paterson which hosted large union meetings. His granddaughter Bunny was instrumental in saving their home, thus becoming the Botto National Labor Museum. Richard’s charcoal portrait of Pietro Botto hangs prominently in the dining room of the house.
Richard’s parent’s Cesarina Bagnoli and Alfred Botto established this lineage. His father, Alfred was a machine designer attributing his attention to detail in all his works. At an early age Richard showed an aptitude in art and some of his childhood recollections influenced him interest in the Cavalli. His grandfather, Cesare Bagnoli was a cavalryman in the Italian army who bore a scar in the middle of his head. An ill-tempered horse left his autograph there one day while he was cleaning the stall. He remembers standing at his knee watching in awe as Cesare demonstrated the use of the saber, swinging his arms in the ritual sequence, ending with the final thrust. Botto grew up in the former Guttenberg Racetrack section of North Bergen. NJ just as the horse drawn era was ending. He was accustomed to see horses daily. A peddler named “Tommy” frequently came down his street with a horse and vegetable cart alerting the neighbors with the cry of “spinache.” The steady stream of horse carts & pleasure horses provided us all with an excellent source of fertilizer. Botto firmly believes that his Italian forefathers played an important part in his success as an artist.
After his service in the US Navy, Botto formally studied art at the Pratt Institute, the Art Students League in New York City and Woodstock, NY. Richard became accomplished in portraiture, figurative, wildlife, and nature.
In the 80’s, equestrian art became the forefront of Richard’s career. This required him to research equine facilities observing many horses and equestrian events. Since then, he has exhibited his work in museums and racetracks. Each year, his work is highlighted at the largest trotting horse race in the world at the Hambletonian at the Meadowlands racetrack right in his neck of the woods. Once again, he is connected to horse and carts only this time it is racing carts. He has painted over 20 Hambletonian winners, some of which can be seen at the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, NY. His work is in many private collections in Italy, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Canada and throughout the United States.