VICTORIAN GENRE PAINTING. AN EXPLORATION OF THE DOMESTIC GENRE PAINTING DURING THE 1850’S AND 1860’S IN BRITAIN. AN APPRECIATION OF DOMESTIC SCENES AND EVERYDAY LIFE EXPLORED BY VICTORIAN ARTISTS AS WELL AS THEMES INVOLVING INDUSTRY , FAMILY LIFE AND ENTERTAINMENT: A SURVEY OF THE MANY ARTISTS WHO CONTRIBUTED TO THIS GENRE. PART 3

Frith

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This is the concluding section of my exploration into 18th Century domestic and genre painting.

The Essential History of Art gives an overview beginning with a discussion on the attributes and craftsmanship of Edwin Landseer.

” The excellent draughtsmanship and fluid technique of Landseer’s early career gave way to sentimental genre scenes of animals which were meant to imply the natural morality of the animal kingdom”. [1].

William Gaunt in English painting considers Richard Bonnington an excellent Landscape artist.

” No less brilliant than Girtin (Landscape Painter who preceded turner) and carrying the influence of English landscape to France was Richard Parks  Bonnington a artist who until recent times never gained the importance that was his due”. [2].

” The vivacity of his touch , in watercolour a novelty to the French caused Delacroix to remark ‘ That his works were in a certain sense Diamonds by which the eye is pleased and fascinated quite independently of the subject’ “.[3].

” It would seem that in returning to the painting of peasant and Village life English Art renounced the pretensions  which so often had disastrous effects and gained the old security offered by the painting of the Netherlands”.[4].

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William Gaunt continues his commentary commenting on David Wilkes who I will deal in more depth with in my next posting.

” Engravings after Teniers set David Wilkes on the road to those minutely executed studies of character and incident , humorous and pathetic which gave him immense popularity”. [5].

” What until recent times has been not appreciated is the effort Wilkie made after 1825 when he visited Italy and Spain to develop his Art along more serious and Ambitious Lines”. [6].

Gaunt now comes onto to discuss William Etty ( 1787-1849) another Romantic painter.

” William Etty ( 1787-1849) is another minor master who attempts the romanticised version of the Grand manner. Yet he retains a more certain place in English Painting by the studies of the Nude which he constantly made throughout his career”.[7].

” Sir Edwin Landseer is one of the most remarkable products of this romantic phase of English painting brilliantly and precociously gifted”. [8].

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William Etty - The Sirens and Ulysses

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Gaunt continues to describe the Art of Edwin Landseer.

” Immensely popular as he (Landseer)  was  in Victorian England for works such as Dignity and Impudence which gave human expression to dogs the subsequent decline of his reputation seemed absolute and final until an exhibition at the Royal academy in 1961″.[9].

” More typical is the concern with social life at home represented by William Powell Frith. it is the merit of Frith that after a period in which he painted illustrations to Novels and costume pieces he became a portrayer of contemporary life , a sort of Victorian Hogarth”.[10].

Gaunt continues to give his respect and praise to William Powell Frith the epitome of Victorian artists.

” His fault which he has often been derided is that of compressing all the incident of a novel onto a canvass, yet his acuteness of observation , the technical skill which is brilliantly evident in the details of Derby day”. [11].

” His ability to animate a crowded scene without confusion proclaim him a painter of rare gifts”. [12].

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Dignity and Impudence 1839 by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer 1802-1873

Gaunt now introduces us to Augustus Egg who I referred to in Part 2.

” The Victorian taste for melodrama is frequently combined with an interest in detail as in the series by Augustus Egg depicting Sin and punishment”. [13].

” In the 1870’s the trend was more definitely towards Social realism in the sense of depicting the seamy side , the life of the unfortunate and outcast as in the casual ward of 1874 by Sir Lukes Fildes”. [14].

Gaunt now makes reference to what he refers to as ‘classical revival’ the art of George Frederick Watts and George Moore.

” Another thread of Art in the second Half of the 19th century is that of a belated classical revival looking back to Italy and Greece sedulously avoiding contemporary life”. [15].

” George Frederick watts and George Moore sought a beauty of fold and  classic drapery like that of the Parthenon sculptures”. [16].

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Gaunt now concludes his commentary with a final overview of the artists he has been discussing.

” The constant study of the figure also produced some admirable examples of draughtsmanship . archaeology and anecdote in antique guise became substitutes  for classicism in the work of Edward Poynter”.[17].

” Travelling as they did extensively and studying the past often with an eclectic zeal English painters became strongly isolated from the rest of the World content with the patronage of the wealthy Middle class with whom they appear to have  been perfectly in harmony”. [18].

FOOTNOTES

  1. ESSENTIAL HISTORY OF ART : PG.140
  2. A CONCISE HISTORY OF ENGLISH PAINTING: WILLIAM GAUNT.PG.123-4
  3. DITTO.PG.125
  4. DITTO.PG.168
  5. DITTO.PG.168
  6. DITTO.PG.168
  7. DITTO.PG.168
  8. DITTO.PG.170
  9. DITTO.PG.170
  10. DITTO.PG.189
  11. DITTO.PG.189
  12. DITTO.PG.189
  13. DITTO.PG.191
  14. DITTO.PG.192
  15. DITTO.PG.192
  16. DITTO.PG.192
  17. DITTO.PG.195
  18. DITTO.PG.196
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