Irma Anne Richter was born into a family of distinguished art historians of the Renaissance period. Her father was Jean Paul Richter and her mother was Louise M. Richter, née Luise Marie Schwaab. Her sister younger Gisela Richter became a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Irma studied at the Slade School of Art, Oxford University, and in Paris. Although she was primarily an artist, Irma's knowledge of and interest in art history and languages led her to become a scholar of Leonardo da Vinci, and a translator of his notebooks. With her sister Gisela, she wrote several books on Greek sculpture. She taught studio art in the USA and in England. Her paintings were exhibited at the Beaux-arts Gallery in London; the Salon in Paris; Goupil Gallery, London; the New English Art Club; and the National Portrait Society. In 1952, she moved with Gisela to live permanently in Rome.