Sunday, August 29, 2010

THE EXTRAORDINARY ENGLISH MAGIC




Portrait of Richard Parkes Bonington
Ashmolean Museum
Author Alexandre-Marie Colin (1798-1873)
From gl.wikipedia.org


Richard Parkes Bonington
by Margaret Sarah Carpenter
Given by William Callow, 1877
From npg.org.uk
Richard Parkes Bonington (b Arnold, nr Nottingham, 25 Oct 1802; d London, 23 Sept 1828) was born in the town of Arnold, 4 miles from Nottingham in England. His father was successively a gaoler, a drawing master and lace-maker, and his mother a teacher. Bonington learned watercolour painting from his father and exhibited paintings at the Liverpool Academy at age 11.
In 1817, Bonington's family moved to Calais, France where his father had set up a lace factory.
At this time, Bonington started taking lessons from the painter François Louis Thomas Francia, who trained him in English watercolour painting.
In 1818, the family moved to Paris to open a lace retail outlet. It was Paris where he first met Eugène Delacroix, who he became friends with. He worked for a time producing copies of Dutch and Flemish landscapes in the Louvre. In 1820, he started attending the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he studied under Antoine-Jean, Baron Gros.
It was around this time that Bonington started going on sketching tours in the suburbs of Paris and the surrounding countryside. His first paintings were exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1822. He also began to work in lithography, illustrating Baron Taylor’s "Voyages pittoresques dans l'ancienne France" and his own architectural series "Restes et Fragmens". In 1824, he won a gold medal at the Paris Salon along with John Constable and Anthony Vandyke Copley Fielding.
(en.wikipedia.org)


The Harbor, Le Havre, c.1821
From handprint.com


Almost immediately from the moment his pictures were publicly exhibited in 1822, Bonington was hailed as a leading talent among the new generation of painters who reacted to the strictures of academic painting that derived from the severe, classicizing style of Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), the leading artist of the French Revolutionary era. Against this style, which was limited to parables from Plutarch, stiff aristocratic portraits and postcards from the Roman countryside (all rendered with a cold, chiseled clarity called "air"), the new generation favored genre paintings of fishmarkets, fields and local laborers painted with emotion and the "atmosphere" of natural effects of light and weather. So a contemporary would see The Harbor, Le Havre, c.1821, (above) as innovative for its hazy aerial perspective, commonplace subject matter, and human figures with their backs turned to us. He would also find the painting recognizably English in style and execution — the broad, flat washes and contrast of warm oranges and browns against cool blues closely follows the style of the leading watercolor painters in the English watercolor societies, such as John Varley. Bonington was impressive too for his technical skill: those light ripples along the shore were not reserved with a resist, or added later with gouache, but were traced by the brush as it laid down the water's reflected colors, including the gradations in tone in the reflections from the top to bottom edge. And the last unique feature of Bonington's style is his remarkable sense for color harmonies, which Delacroix described as gemlike.
(Bruce MacEvoy at handprint.com)
Richard Parkes Bonington is the painter most often credited with bringing the English watercolor movement to Europe in paintings of great technical command and color lyricism.
(Anny Su at abcgallery.com)


Seestück
Oil on canvas
Current location Wallace collection
Source The Yorck Project
From commons.wikimedia.org


Szene in der Normandie
Oil on canvas
Current location Tate Gallery, London
From commons.wikimedia.org


Boats near the Shore of Normandy
Oil on canvas, 1823-24
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg
From Web Gallery of Art at wga.hu


By 1823 he was working closely with Francia (then in Paris) to prepare his own lithographic series on architectural ruins, Restes et Fragmens (Remnants and Fragments); but he also contributed to other architectural publications, studied medieval armor and dress for historical and costume paintings, began painting in oils, and toured northern France with an extended stay in Dunkurque. After the famous Salon of 1824, where he received a gold medal along with John Constable and Anthony Copley Fielding, demand for his work increased significantly. He probably met Samuel Prout at this time.
(Bruce MacEvoy at handprint.com)


Rouen
Watercolour, 1825
Wallace Collection, London
From Web Gallery of Art at wga.hu


Vista de la Costa de Normandia, 1825
Current location Musée du Louvre, Paris
From epdlp.com


Shipping Off the Kent Coast
Pen, grey ink and watercolors over pencil, 1825
Presented by Prof. Luke Herrmann
Through the National Art Collections Fund
(from the Bruce Ingram Collection), 2002
From arthistory.upenn.edu


This 1825 watercolor coast scene (above) belongs to a prolific period of such scenes produced in Bonington’s life. The artist took short travels back to his native England. A trip in 1825 had a considerable impression on his watercolors due to a renewed interest in Constable and Turner. The coast of Kent is located off of southeastern England and was a major port in the nineteenth century. Although it has not been established whether Bonington passed through Kent on his travels back from London to Paris when this watercolor was executed, it is entirely possible. This watercolor was preparatory to an oil painting in the Wallace Collection and closely resembles those of the Dutch and Flemish traditions in the seventeenth century. In fact, port scenes of van der Cappelle or van de Velde are frequently invoked in discussions of this drawing, which Bonington painted shortly after returning from London. During much of his training in Paris, Bonington spent extensive time in the Louvre looking at, studying, and copying Dutch and Flemish paintings, including marine and coast scenes. The lowness of the watercolor’s horizon and the large amount of the canvas left to the sky, along with his attention towards atmospheric qualities and light techniques, can likely be attributed to Bonington’s predilection for the seventeenth-century masters Cuyp and Ruisdael.
While it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what types of ships these are, it is likely that they are associated with transportation of goods. The boat in the front resembles a cargo ship, to its left a smaller vessel perhaps a fishing boat, and the largest vessel in the background most closely resembles an ocean-going ship. The light sweeps of color to denote the sky, clouds, and horizon-line is perpendicular to the vertical ship masts which again contrast with the undulating waves of the sea. Verticals and horizontals interpentrate to forge a balanced composition. Bonington utilizes the “scratching out” technique, a method of pigment removal with a sharp instrument, to outline and highlight the waves of the sea. The effect is vivid, creating a more textural and almost frothy quality, particularly at the leftmost edge of the boats.
(Anny Su at abcgallery.com)
Bonington traveled to London in 1825 where he studied historical costumes in Westminster, met important artists, publishers and art dealers, and toured along the northern coast with Eugène Isabey and Delacroix before returning to Paris to take up lodgings with Delacroix. In 1826 Bonington made a two month trip through Switzerland and northern Italy with a fellow painter, Charles Rivet, composing many drawings and oil sketches but fewer watercolors. In 1827 he made a second trip to London and continued to exhibit and to appear in lithographic publications, and was working strenuously on his various commissions. He made a third trip to London in 1828 and received notice for paintings exhibited at the British Institution for the Promotion of Fine Arts, but collapsed during a sketching tour of the Seine that summer, apparently sick with tuberculosis. His health began to deteriorate rapidly, and he was taken to London by his parents for treatment, but died two weeks after his arrival.
(Bruce MacEvoy at handprint.com)


El Parterre de Agua de Versalles, 1826
Current location Museo del Louvre, Paris
From epdlp.com


On the Coast of Picardy
Oil on canvas, 1826
Wallace Collection, London
From Web Gallery of Art at wga.hu


Henri III and the English Ambassador
Oil on canvas, 1827-1828
Wallace Collection, London, UK
From Web Gallery of Art at wga.hu


Sunset in the Pays de Caux
Watercolour, 1828
Wallace Collection, London
From Web Gallery of Art at wga.hu


A Venetian Scene
Watercolour, c. 1828
Wallace Collection, London
From Web Gallery of Art at wga.hu


Although Bonington's art had certainly benefited from the example of his brilliant French friends, his influence on French painting was incomparably greater. He introduced into France a new quality of light and color in the treatment of the sea, the sky, and the landscape, as in Normandy Coast; he placed his medieval towns and the undulating French farmlands in the ever-shifting light of day. Under the influence of Delacroix, Bonington painted groups of figures in interiors, particularly Shakespearean subjects. He read Sir Walter Scott, as everyone then did, and the medieval chronicler Froissart, whose language had a powerful charm for him. Bonington drenched his history pictures in local color, and he had a joyful sense of the past, exemplified in Henry IV and the Spanish Ambassador, with no interest in the dark and melancholy side of the romantic vision.
It was Bonington's ambition to blend the skill of the Dutch with the vigor of the Venetians and the light and atmosphere of the English; not altogether successful in the first two categories, he completely succeeded in rendering and passing on the extraordinary English magic. He brought the spontaneity and brilliant coloring of British landscape painting, particularly watercolor, to Delacroix, Géricault, and Isabey and hence to the Barbizon school, which in turn led to the impressionists.
(.bookrags.com)
Many sources comment on Bonington’s artistic precocity at such an early age. When both of his parents’ careers failed, Bonington’s father acquired a sum off of selling his son’s works. Even after the artist’s death, his father continued to sell his son’s works. When inventory dwindled, his father would try to pass off his own works as those of the artist’s. Not only does this show that Bonington was recognized in his day, but also that his works were in marketable demand. His watercolors and landscapes were regarded very highly, and in France, was one of the first artists to paint outdoors rather than in the studio. A group of paintings previously attributed to the artist were actually painted by close followers, another testament to the influence Bonington had on nineteenth-century watercolors.
(Anny Su at abcgallery.com)


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