English painting of the 17 – 19th Centuries
“The masterpieces of painting like the masterpieces of music and poetry transform experience; they are a source of beauty”
The world “art” can mean many different things. Music is an art and so are poetry and ballet. Cookery, too, may be considered an art and so may needlework or even fishing. But if we speak of Art-with a capital A-we usually mean some object, deliberately and skillfully created for public exhibition.
It’s hard to overestimate the role of art in our life. If forms our outlook and enriches our inner world, proclaims life. Visiting picture galleries can be compared to reading historical books and watching some TV programmes for it produces a great source of information about different countries and their culture, the life of other people and their inner world. Real art touches our feelings, moves our emotions and purifies our souls. The pictures of the great artists present poems without words, which should be read like open books. The language of art is universal. It does not matter where the artist comes from, what nation or faith he belongs to – art is such sphere of human communication, which brings people from all over the world to mutual understanding without a single word. Art unites world like a source of beauty.
At times artists have been specialists – gifted people selected and trained to become expert in the choice of the excellent forms, colours and lines. They seek to portray truthfully the visible world or to make images that express truths about the invisible world of the spirit.
And again, turning back to Pablo Picasso and quoting his words: “There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with a help of their art and intelligence transform a spot into sun”, – I’d like to point out among such greatest artists as Thomas Gainsborough, Joseph Turner, Sir Joshua Reynolds and many other, I’d like to point out John Constable, one of the most famous English landscape painters. He has generally been regarded as the paradigm of the English landscape artist. Constable’s affection for nature was great and his mastery to show the much loved English scene reached it’s marvelous peak. He always attempted to depict the effects of nature^ light, clouds, rain. Every moment of nature gave him pleasure: it moods, cloud shadows, gleams of light. He painted exactly what he saw in the clearest and freshest tones: his capacity for rendering the freshness of atmosphere and the incidence of light was unique.
Constable’s method of painting was nearest to that of the Impressionists. The crowning achievement of Constable’s works is his most famous picture “Hay Wain”, painted in 1821, more than 50 years before the Impressionists
and was to influence the later French landscape painters. It is a landscape and, looking on this picture you can understand why Constable is usually called “the herald of romanticism”. Everything, from common wooden house and little dog on the bank of a river, or, may be a loch, is full of poetry and freshness. But realistic qualities of this work are sensed very strongly. You can see peasants in a cart and feel their worries and problems. The main aim of the artist is to render all delicate features of nature’s conditions and critics say that the main mean of expression was coloring.
All Constable’s works show picturesque variety of detail, a triumph of keen observation, truth of atmospheric colour and directness of handling. “^ ”, “Brighton Beach With Colliers” are among his best known paintings.
I can’t mentioning Constable’s talent in portraiture. His supreme mastery of technique can be noticed in the portrait of Maria Bicknell. It was written in 1816. In the picture you see a pretty young woman of about 25 years old. She has big dark eyes and thick dark curly hair. Her pose is natural and characteristic and the coloring of her face consists of delicate and pure tones because of what it looks spiritual. The portrait produces impression of airness and lightness. The artist managed to render the sitter’s individuality and moving sincerity of the model. It seems as if she radiates light and warmth. This picture is an exemplify a high degree of artistic skill, it possesses finished technique.
Speaking about famous English painters of the 17 – 19th centuries we can’t help mentioning great Joshua Reynolds (1723 – 1792), Joseph Mallord Turner (1775 – 1851) and William Hogarth (1697 – 1764).
J. Reynold established himself as a portrait painter, and success came quickly. Nearly every distinguished English family of the time sat a Reynolds portrait. The artist became especially well known for his portraits of women and children. He never married but maintained a splendid London house and was active in society. In 1764 he founded the Literary Club, whose members included such famous people as authors Samuel Johnson and Oliver Goldsmith, statesman Edmund Burke, and actor David Garrick.
In 1768 Reynolds became president of the newly founded Royal Academy, and the next year he was knighted by King George III. From 1769 through 1790 he delivered a “Discourse” at each prize awarding of the Royal Academy. These lectures preserve Reynolds’ ideas on the proper training of artists: learning to draw and to use color, studying masterpieces, and comparing these to nature. The “Discourses” reflect the taste of his time, a balanced appreciation of earlier models and of nature with subjects drawn from history and fable.
Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775 – 1851) was an English painter and engraver. (Viewed as a whole, his career exhibits a restless energy, an unceasing capacity for invention, that is unique among English artists; to find a parallel for it in this country it is necessary to compare him with poets, novelists and social critics rather than with other painters. He was at once the most traditional artist of his time and the most original: traditional in his devotion to the Old Masters and to the aesthetic ideals of the eighteenth century; original in his creation of new styles that radically undermined the normal conventions of picture-making. He believed in the time-honoured role of the artist as poet – but knocked away the foundations on which previous poetic painting had been built. He evolved a highly personal artistic language of his own.
Rembrandt is a master of paint. He is no virtuoso. But yet out of his penetration of nature and reality he builds up a masterful handling of line and colour which represents his own mind, his own eyes, and hands, his own “voice”, so to speak, and yet evokes so completely a feeling of actual life in the observer. Like El Greco, Velasquez, and Rubens, in his century, Rembrandt broke colour apart1 in his hand and put its elements together again. His dark yet sumptuous colour seems to disappear as colour to dissolve into light, with infinite gradations of tone. It seems to bring into being2 the form of the painting, by what it picks out of the shadows. It is only on close examination that we realize with what freedom and understanding colour must be used to achieve this “disappearance”, what an “orchestration” he has created of little spots and strokes of red, gold, green, blue and orange, thin brushstrokes and heavier impasto, the rhythms of the brushstrokes themselves combining to create these shimmering tones and vibrations of light. His form is as varied as his subjects and it is monumental, not in sharp outlines but in the bulk and living character of the human beings he discloses, as they come to life out of shadow and out of surrounding space. They are seen always with an eye for what is most typically human in them, what makes them kin to all common humanity. He has affected and stirred the mind of humanity as few artists in history, and what his greatness proves is that while mastery of the tools of art is necessary, it is where this mastery ands that greatness begins. It is defined by nothing other than the mind of the artist, the power. Depth, realism, courage and enlightment of his thought.
William Hogarth (1697 – 1764) was unquestionably one of the greatest of English artists, being a msn of remarkably individual character and thought. It was his achievement to give a comprehensive view of social life within the framework of moralistic and dramatic narrative, this creation of a world being far more important than the system of ethics or the tale involved. He produced portraits which brought a fresh vitality and truth into the jaded profession of what he called “phizmongering”3. He observed both high life and low with a keen and critical eye and his range of observation was accompanied by an exceptional capacity of dramatic composition, and in painting by a technical quality which adds beauty to pictures containing an element of satire or caricature.
Two prospects must have been revealed to him as a result, the idea of constructing his own pictorial drama comprising various scenes of social life, and that of reaching a wider public through the means of engraving. The first successful series “The Harlot’s Progress”, of which only the engravings now exist, was immediately followed by the tremendous verve and riot of “The Rake’s Progress”: the masterpiece of the story series the “Marriage-a-la-Mode” following after an interval of twelve years.
Being a painter of social life, Hogarth shows the benefit of the system of memory training which he made a self-discipline. London being his universe, he displayed his mastery in painting every aspect of its people and architecture.
To finish my lecture I would like to say that great painters make us see and think a great deal more than the objects before us, they teach us to look at a scene through their eyes.
A great painting enriches our experience of life, just as a great poem does or a great musical composition.
English Painters of the 17 – 19th Centuries
Вернуться к конспектам уроков
1 to break colour apart – разложить цвет на различные оттенки или на составные части
2 to bring into being – зд. создать
3 phizmongering, phizmongering – портретирование, создание портретов
© Батуева Надежда Павловна, 2007.
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