His father Carl (1770-1848) was an engraver and the principal pupil of Adrian Zingg. He taught his son to draw, etch, and paint. [The younger Richter] trained at the Dresden Academy primarily as a topographical draftsman. His first etchings, of views around Dresden, were made with his father on commission for the dealer Johann Christoph Arnold (1763-1847) in 1820. Arnold was delighted with them, and, affected by Richter's resemblance to his own son who had recently died young, gave him an annual allowance of 400 thaler to go to Italy, with no conditions attached. Richter remained there from 1823-1826, and met all the leading landscape artists of the German colony in Rome, being most influenced by Koch and Schnorr von Carolsfeld.
After his return, between 1828 and 1835 he was employed two days a week as the drawing master to the employees at the Meissen porcelain factory. This left him time to make a series of landscape paintings of Italy, or Italianate scenes, and these secured him the appointment as teacher of landscape painting at the Dresden Academy in 1836; he was made professor in 1841 and retired, loaded with honors, in 1876.
Richter became, and has remained, a household name in Germany for the woodcut illustrations he designed for innumerable books, both for children and adults, published by Georg Wigand in Leipzig. (Antony Griffiths and Frances Carey, German Printmaking in the Age of Goethe, London, 1994, p. 226)