THE BORDER OF THE XVIII-XIX CENTURIES. NEW TRENDS IN ENGLISH PAINTING
The end of the 18th century was marked by great upheavals. The French Revolution and the era of Napoleon brought to the forefront of new heroes – the military, politicians, fighters. Portraiture and historical painting are of utmost importance. But, while some images of statesmen are traditionally full of dignity and importance, others bear the imprint of unbridled romanticism that prevailed in literature at that time. The most prominent representative of the first direction was Thomas Lawrence, the second – George Dow.
“Brilliant, but cold” (in the words of art historians) Lawrence’s art (1769-1830) brought him great popularity on the continent. His homeland also recognized his merits – for many years he was president of the Royal Academy of Arts. His portraits are distinguished by the careful drawing of draperies, clothes, the significant nature of the characters’ faces, their self-esteem and superiority. Even in the portrait of the shockingly famous, ebullient and wayward lady Carolina Lam, Byron’s lover, whose tricks were legendary, we see a calm, pensive woman.
For this reason, among the customers of Lawrence there are so many persons from the most notable families of Europe, kings and princesses. Often, for the sake of the client, the artist redid portraits, giving individuals proper majesty.
The work of George Dow (1789-1829), on the contrary, was distinguished by emotionality and liveliness. According to A.G. Venetsianov, portraits of the Dow are not portraits, but living faces. The artist created his best canvases in Russia, where at the invitation of Alexander I he painted portraits for the Military Gallery of the Winter Palace. Brushes Dow owns many portraits of the most prominent military leaders of Russia, and the portrait of Alexander I of his work is considered the best image of the emperor.
His canvases were written quickly, literally in three sessions, and had a stunning resemblance to the original. Customers were delighted. In excellent words, the work of Dow was described by Pushkin. The authority of the master was so great that he was elected as a member of the Academy of Arts of St. Petersburg, London, Vienna, Paris, Florence, Dresden, Munich, Stockholm.
At the turn of the century, English landscape painting was particularly developed. British masters of this genre come to the first roles in Europe. The greatest influence on later artists had John Constable (1776-1837). He was never abroad and wrote only the good old England. He portrayed the views of his homeland with utmost certainty. The master so masterfully owned the color and chiaroscuro that, according to contemporaries, his paintings literally feel the freshness of the wind and the sound of leaves in the crowns of trees.
The end of the 18th century was marked by the wide distribution of watercolors. Water-based paints were often used in England before, but right now, watercolor was appreciated. The constable was a brilliant watercolorist, but another luminary of the English landscape, Joseph William Turner (1775-1851), achieved true perfection in watercolor. Its elements were sea and air, two of the most grateful objects of the watercolorist’s efforts, the elements are swift, capricious and changeable.
Many of Turner’s works are written in oil, but he never cheated on his favorite elements. Even on quite traditional images of architectural monuments, sky and water are some of the main characters. All the artist’s paintings are full of lighting effects, and even specific objects convey the same amount of nature as they serve as carriers of bright color solutions and create the general mood of the picture. One of the most characteristic in this respect and, perhaps, the most expressive of his paintings is “Fire in the Sea” (1834).
Turner’s contribution to world art is not limited to his own canvases. During the Franco-Prussian war, the famous future Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley and Camille Pissarro left France and left for London to study the work of English landscape painters. They were most influenced by Turner’s work, whose desire to often sacrifice details, but the play of color and the freedom of the brushstroke to create a general emotional mood of the picture, subsequently became one of the fundamental principles of impressionism. Therefore, Turner can rightfully be considered one of the forerunners of this great movement.
THE MIDDLE OF THE XIX CENTURY. SEARCH FOR NEW IN THE OLD
The second half of the 19th century was described by a number of critics as a period of stagnation in English painting. The same opinion was shared by a very popular at the time group of young artists who organized the Brotherhood of Pre-Raphaelites in the late 40s. Its members called for the abandonment of the dead traditions, conventions, academism of modern art and a return to direct and sincere painting of the period “before Raphael”.
In the work of the members of the Brotherhood, the desire to follow the canons of the early Renaissance is clearly noticeable.