GOLDEN AGE OF THE ENGLISH AQUARIAN SCHOOL.
The works of the masters of the Georgian era, who vividly demonstrated the picturesque possibilities of watercolors, honed the already known technical methods and created many new ones, led to the true heyday of the English watercolor school in the 19th century. Many of the best old paintings of the Victorian era are made in this technique. Researchers of antique painting in England, with good reason, argue that at the beginning of the 19th century, watercolor became almost the most important form of English fine art.
A sign of the popularity of watercolor technique was the foundation in 1804 of the Society of watercolorists. The initiator of the Society was William Frederick Wells (1762-1836), a watercolorist and engraver, a member of the Royal Academy of Arts, a friend of William Turner.
The popularity of watercolors was also explained by the comparative simplicity and accessibility of technology. There are many amateur artists who have tried their hand in the genres of landscape and miniature portrait.
As watercolors became in great demand, watercolors no longer needed to be distracted by the search for other sources of income (as landscape painters of the previous period were forced to do), and they could give watercolors all their time and creative powers. Thanks to this, at the beginning of the XIX century a whole series of new masters came to the forefront, each of whom could present his own creative manner.
Despite a short creative life, Thomas Gertin managed to leave the students. The most famous of them is John Sell Kotman (1782-1842). Coming from a family of cloth merchants, at the age of 16 he came to London, where Goertin accepted him to study at his workshop. In search of scenes, the talented marine painter traveled all over the coast of England and Normandy and left hundreds of paintings, drawings, sketches.
In addition to creative activities, Kotman was actively involved in teaching, including at King’s College in London. He did a lot to popularize English watercolors, being the president of the famous Norwich (Norwich) school of art.
In terms of lighting solutions and overall color, many experts consider Kotman one of the predecessors of the Art Nouveau style. According to the British Museum, in the XX century, among connoisseurs of antique paintings, Kotman is England’s most famous watercolorist, surpassing even Turner in popularity.
One of the most outstanding landscape painters of the “golden age” of English watercolors is considered David Cox (1783-1859). Cox had a great command of oil painting and engraving techniques from his father, a gunsmith blacksmith, he learned to work in metal, but his main love was watercolor.
In his youth, David Cox took lessons from several artists, while working as a decorator in the theater. As a student at the Royal Academy of Arts, he wrote several theoretical works on painting. Cox combined watercolors with teaching, and immediately immediately seriously established himself in this field. His first student, who was delighted with the lessons of Cox and, in gratitude, introduced him to the higher circles of England, was Colonel Henry Windsor, the future Duke of Plymouth.
Confession to Cox as an artist came quite late, but was immediately decisive and unconditional. He is part of a number of watercolor societies of England, often exhibited. Two of his watercolors were purchased for Queen Victoria.
Known to us, John Ruskin wrote that in terms of simplicity and seriousness, no landscape painter can compare with Cox. For the decisiveness of the stroke, the courage of the color of David Cox is considered one of the early predecessors of impressionism.
Another representative of the older generation of the “Golden Age”, Samuel Praut (1783-1852), was a master of urban landscape. At the same time, Prout found his calling only at the age of 35. Prior to that, he painted rural landscapes, drew sketches of the facades of future buildings, gave lessons.
English painting, Artist S. Praut. View of Nuremberg. 1823C. Praut. View of Nuremberg. 1823
During his first trip to the continent of Prat, in addition to drawings of facades, he began to make watercolor sketches of streets, market squares, old castles. His work enthralled friends and acquaintances with the subtleties of the contours of buildings, half-hidden nuances of color and lighting, which were not visible with a simple eye.
The legacy of Prouut is hundreds of paintings and sketches of urban views. Contemporaries compared him with Gainsborough, Constable. In watercolor, critics considered Prouut to be the same luminosity of the urban landscape as Turner was in the rural landscape. The ubiquitous Ruskin wrote that sometimes he may be bored to watch Turner, but never Prouut.
Merits of Praut were recognized at the highest state level – he was a full-time watercolor painter at the court of George IV and Queen Victoria.