While still in his middle teens, Richard Lorenz studied sculpture in Germany. Later he received an art scholarship (endowed by Franz Liszt) to attend the Academy of Fine Arts in Weimar, Germany to study drawing. While there, he twice received the school's highest award.
Lorenz was recruited in Germany to come to America, and in the spring of 1886, he settled in Milwaukee where he was employed by William Wehner’s American Panorama Company. He became the equestrian specialist and worked on the two versions of the Battle of Atlanta and Jerusalem on the Day of the Crucifixion that the company produced.
During 1887 and 1888, Lorenz toured Colorado, California, Oregon, Arizona and Texas, spending time sketching San Francisco’s Chinatown and the Monterey coast. He also spent considerable time with the Texas Rangers. This was the first of many Western trips that provided him with Western scenes for which he has become nationally known. Today, Lorenz is considered one of the foremost painters of Western genre after Frederic Remington. In June of 1892, Lorenz was documented in the Chicago Daily Inter Ocean as working for Reed & Gross in Chicago on the Chicago Fire panorama.
In 1901, Lorenz was one of the founding members of the Society of Milwaukee Artists. He was the first vice-president of the group. In 1913, they changed their name to Wisconsin Painters & Sculptors. Lorenz was also a teacher, instructing many of Wisconsin’s artists at the Wisconsin School of Design (a.k.a. Wisconsin Art Institute), Lorenz School of Art and the Milwaukee Art Students League’s Wisconsin School of Art.