Art of the 18th Century--4

[ Poussin Lorraine ] [Lebrun Watteau Fragonard ] [ Chardin Boucher ]

[ Gainsborough Caneletto ] [Wright David ]


Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788)

Gainsborough, an English painter of the 18th century, represents a"contrasting blend of 'naturalistic' representation and Rococo setting..." (Tansey and Kleiner 899). Although not evident in all of his paintings, Gainsborough had a deep interest in landscape; he gained fame as a portraitist but began his career as a landscape painter and always claimed to prefer scenes of nature to what brought him more fame, depiction of human likenesses. (899) Gainsborough's early portraits, such as, Mr. and Mrs. Andrews or Robert Andrews and his Wife (1750) indicate his initial interest in landscape as well as his gifts as a portraitist.
Art historian H. W. Janson wrote of this painting's " lyrical charm," as the country squire and his wife "sit naturally, and unpretentiously, at home in their setting" (452). At the same time, "the casual grace of the two figures indirectly recalls Watteau..." (452).

Gainsborough painted The Blue Boy, Jonathan Buttall, the son of a wealthy merchant, in 1770.

Portrait of a Lady in Blue (1785-1786) dramatically illustrates Gainsborough's skill and deserved fame as a portraitist. His sophisticated, aristocratic subject with her "clear, unassisted 'English' complexion" looks directly out at the viewer, in sharp contrast to her pert, flirtatious counterparts on the continent (Tansey and Kleiner 899).

18th century English elites became tourists. Young men of wealth and fashion went on the "grand tour" on the continent to complete their education, to polish their French, to have a good time. This trend dovetailed with the "naturalness" of the period's artistic trends. "The English were especially eager collectors of pictorial souvenirs" (Tansey and Kleiner 900). Before the advent of the postcard, they bought pictures that documented particular places that they visited and enjoyed.

Antonio de Canal (Caneletto--1697-1768)

Since Venice was a popular watering-hole for English and other travelers, Venetian artists capitalized on the fad and produced characteristic scenes, which then appeared on the walls of England's great country houses. Caneletto emerged as the master of the genre, as seen in The Ducal Palace in Venice (1755)

View of the Piazza San Marco (1735-1740) typifies how Caneletto paid close attention to accuracy, detail, the rules of perspective, and created works that were "coherent and engagingly attractive" as well as "positive and alluring." (900) Caneletto's world was "clean, orderly, and tidy. The sun always shines, and every aspect of the weather is serene." (900-901)


The View of Alnwick Castle (1752)


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