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English painters of the “Golden Age” The period from Hogarth to Constable and Turner, that is the period between the 1730s and the 1830s, is rightly considered to be the “Golden Age” of the English painting. Never at any other time did so many first-class English masters work side by side. Never in any other age did England contribute so much to the history of world art. This flowering of English painting was not a chance. It was at that time that England took the path to rapid capitalist development marked by an unprecedented growth in its economic might and by the general advance of its national culture and art. Certain features of the development of English society determined the peculiarities of English art at that time. Contrary to France where the court and the catholic church were always the principal bodies that gave artists commissions for a piece of work, right from the very beginning English artists worked almost exceptionally for some private person. It was because of this that quite definite genres such as the portrait, the landscape and genre painting evolved here. For a long time portrait painting was the principal, or it can be said the national genre of the English school. The landscape that began to attract the attention of the most outstanding English painters as early as the middle of the 18th century did not win the sympathy of the general public for a long time. It began to flourish in the 1st half of the 19th century. Genre painting began to predominate at the end of the 18th century. It is considered that the formation of the English national school had almost been completed by the 1750s. The decades that followed were the age of its flowering when a galaxy of brilliant masters made English painting one of the foremost among the European art schools of the time. Among the English masters of the first half of the 18th century the most outstanding and original one was William Hogarth. At the time he appeared English art was still greatly influenced by foreign painters, mainly by old Italian and Flemish masters. The two other leading masters of that time are Joshua Reynolds, a talented theoretician and a brilliant painter whose works determined the nature of the English portrait school at the turn of the 19th century, and Thomas Gainsborough, the most fascinating English painter of the 18th century in whose art landscape and portrait were of equal importance. Two other names are John Constable who through his realistic depiction of the English countryside rightly deserved to be called the originator of realistic landscape in the 19th century, and of William Turner, whose landscapes are full of romantic effects and symbolism.
William Hogarth ( 1697 - 1764) William Hogarth (1697-1764) is one of the greatest English painters – satirists of the 18th century. In his pictures he reflected social life and in many of them the beauty of his painting was accompanied by satire. William Hogarth was born in November, 1697 in London in the family of Richard Hogarth, a poor Latin school teacher and textbook writer, and Anne Gibbons. In his youth he was apprenticed to the engraver Ellis Gamble in Leicester Fields, where he learned to engrave the plates. Young Hogarth also took a lively interest in the street life of London, and amused himself by sketching the characters he saw. Hogarth became famous for his series of paintings depicting different scenes from everyday life. He himself called them “pictorial dramas”. Each series consisted of 6-8 pictures united by one plot and described a story from the very beginning to the end . His most popular series were “The Harlot’s Progress”, “The Rake’s Progress” , “The Marriage–a-la-Mode”, “The Election Entertainment” . Hogarth’s pictures were serious moral and social satires, besides being good paintings. There are a lot of symbols in his paintings and it is necessary to find and interpret them so as to understand the real content of the picture.
“Before the Marriage” The picture “Before the marriage” is a vivid example of satire in painting. It is the first picture of the series “The Marriage-a-la-Mode”. In the picture you can see the family of Lord Squanderfield. His family is ancient and noble. The symbol of their ancient origin is the family tree in the lower right-hand corner of the picture. But obviously he has wasted his fortune and there is no money to pay the workers. You can see them in the background of the picture: without payment the workers have stopped work, they are on strike! A wealthy merchant sits opposite Lord Squanderfield. He is rich , but his family doesn’t have a noble and ancient name. So, a marriage is arranged between their children. Lord Squanderfield’s son will marry the merchant’s daughter, and two families will get what they want. But does the merchant’s daughter look happy? What is the lawyer suggesting her? Lord Squanderfield’s son doesn’t seem to care that the two young people will be shackled together in an arranged marriage. In the lower left-hand corner you can see two dogs. They are shackled together with a chain just like the unhappy couple. It is also a symbol.
Joshua Reynolds (1723 – 1792) Sir Joshua Reynolds was the dominant painter in the second half of the 18-th century. He was born on July 16, 1723 in Devonshire and was educated by his father, a clergyman and the master of the free grammar school in the place. He wanted his son to be a doctor, but the boy wanted to paint very much. At the age of 8 he made a perfect drawing of the school. And that surprised his father greatly. When Reynolds was 18 he went to London to study art under Thomas Hudson, an artist and a portrait painter. In 2 years he began to paint portraits himself. One of his friends suggested him trip to Italy. There he spent some years, learning the art of old masters. Reynolds was deeply impressed by Michelangelo. The name of Michelangelo was constantly upon his lips. To the end of his life the Florentine remained for Reynolds the supreme figure in art. The great artist Reynolds Sir Joshua passed away on the 23rd of February 1792. His last words to the students of the Academy were about Michelangelo, his immortal genius. Among his models were aristocrats and the gentry, state and political figures, military men, poets and writers, actors and scientists, upper-class ladies and women of questionable reputation. Having a lot of commissions, Reynolds produced more than 100 paintings a year.
“ Venus and the Cupid” After his coming back from Italy to London, Reynolds painted a lot of portraits. His popularity was great. Famous writers, scientists, politicians, philosophers visited his hospitable house. He also played a very important role in policy. In 1760 the London world of art was greatly impressed by the exhibition of pictures of the Society of Artists to the public. That was the idea of Reynolds. Then the artists asked help and patronage from the King George III to found the Royal Academy. and in 1768 the Academy was founded. Reynolds was its first president. Later he was appointed as the King’s painter. Sir Joshua’s life was peaceful and happy, he was a prosperous and successful artist, and he created his wonderful portraits. His best paintings are “The Portrait of the actress S. Siddons”, “Venus and Cupid”, “Captain Robert Orme”, the portraits of the King’s family and many others.
Thomas Gainsborough (1727 -1788) Thomas Gainsborough was born in Sudbery, Suffolk in 1727. His father was a cloth merchant, his mother painted flower – pictures and approved her son’s desire to draw. His father sent Thomas to London to study art when he was 12. He stayed there for 8 years. In 1746 he fell in love with a charming girl Margaret Burr and married her. The start of his career as a painter was very successful. He painted both small – size portraits and landscapes. Then he with his family moved to Bath, then it was the general resort of wealth and fashion. In Bath Gainsborough became a fashionable artist, portraying the aristocracy, wealthy merchants and artists. He didn’t produce small paintings any more, but full – length, life – size portraits. He began to exhibit his paintings with the London Society of Artists. He was the member of the Royal Academy. Thomas Gainsborough was a self – taught artist and didn’t take the traditional tour to Italy to learn art. He relied on his own remarkable instinct in painting. But he had a considerable influence on the artists of the English school. Thomas Gainsborough was famous for the truth, elegance and refinement of his portraits and for the simple beauty of his landscapes. He painted 800 portraits and more than 200 landscapes. Thomas Gainsborough died of cancer in 1788 at age of 66. He contributed a lot into the development of English painting. His landscapes put the beginning to the remarkable English landscape painting.
“The Portrait of Duchess de Beaufort” Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) was an outstanding English painter of the 18th century. He was a brilliant portraitist. The artist’s deep psychological approach enabled him to impart a poetic expression of individuality. Gainsborough’s “Portrait of Duchess de Beaufort” is an outstanding work of art. The artist depicts a graceful and attractive young woman. She has a pleasant oval face, straight eyebrows and black eyes, a straight nose and well-shaped delicate hands. You can see that she is an aristocrat. Her rather pale complexion is contrasted to the dark colour of the background (dark colours in the background were a tradition in Gainsborough’s time). The artist enlivens the face by a little colour on her cheeks. Her greyish hair is combed very high and fastened with a comb and a blue ribbon, as was the fashion in those days. The dress is very low cut, also according to the fashion of the day. The portrait is painted in cold colours (black, blue, grey, white). At first sight you may think that it is a traditional ceremonial portrait, but if you look attentively, you will see that her parted lips, fleeting glance and graceful gesture of her hand help to create a true impression of the sitter’s vitality and optimism. The woman in the picture is alive, we have a feeling that she is looking at us.
William Turner (1775 – 1851) Joseph Mallord William Turner was an English Romantic landscape painter, watercolourist and printmaker. William Turner was born on 23 April 1775 in London. His father was the owner of a small barber's shop. William went to school at Brentford, and then he was apprenticed by his father to Thomas Malton, a watercolourist. At the age of 14 William entered the Royal Academy. Among Turner's occupations were: copyist, painter of the countryside houses and castles, marine landscape painter. Seascapes, epic painting, historical painting were Turner's main genres. William's journeys to Wales and to the Island of Wight aroused historical and mythological subjects. But his favourite objects for painting were sea and its moods and the mountain storms. His clients were both the owners of country houses and castles and some representatives of nobility, even George IV. When he was 27 years old, in 1802, Turner was made a Royal Academician. Turner was an eccentric man with paradoxical conduct, preferring solitude. At the end of his life he became a person evading all social relationships that his great success could have brought him and hiding himself in Chelsea. Turner died on 19 December 1851 and was buried in St. Paul's Cathedral. Turner was considered a controversial figure in his day, but is now regarded as the artist who elevated landscape painting to an eminence rivalling history painting. He is commonly known as "the painter of light," and his style can be said to have laid the foundation for Impressionism. His entire life was devoted to his art. Unlike many artists of his time, he was successful throughout his career: Turner left more than 19,000 watercolors, drawings, and oil paintings to the British nation. Most of these works are in the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery in London.
Turner’s first works This is one of the first Turner’s works “Drawing of St John's Church, Margate” made by him in 1786, when he was 11 or 12 years old. The ambitious but unsure drawing shows an early struggle with perspective, that can be contrasted with his later work. “A View of the Archbishop's Palace, Lambeth” - this watercolour was Turner's first work to be accepted for the Royal Academy's annual exhibition in April 1790, the month he turned fifteen.
“The Shipwreck” "The Shipwreck" is one of the most famous Turner's pain-tings. Though Turner painted it when he was quite young, it shows extraordinary mastery of expression and perfect command of technique. Turner's painting is tremen-dously influenced by the fury of the stormy seas. The realism of this storm-tossed sea and shipwrecked sai-lors desperately trying to survive make this picture one of the masterpieces of Turner's youth.
“Rain, Steam and Speed” This is a very rainy day, so rainy that it is difficult to see. The wind is blowing very strongly and howling in your ears. What can we see? At first glance very little, but then we notice a steam engine with its shining black funnel. Behind it there are railway carriages. The train speeds along its journey. This is the Great Western Railway., carrying its passengers from London to the coast. The train is on a bridge and down below is the river Thames. In the distance there is another bridge across the Thames. Is that a little boat sailing on the water? It is very stormy weather to be out on a little boat! It is much safer to be on the train with the window tightly closed. Shut your eyes and you ‘ll soon be at your destination. For this is the beginning of the new age of steam, and the railway will allow you to travel through the countryside much more quickly. The steam engine races across the land…Is it good or bad? Steam-engines are so noisy and dirty. What will happen to the peace of the countryside? This is a painting called “Rain, steam and speed”. It was painted in the 18-th century by William Turner. He often painted subjects showing the impact of the Industrial Revolution upon the country.
John Constable (1776 – 1837) John Constable is one of the greatest painters – realists of the 19-th century. He was born in a Suffolk village and spent his childhood on his father’s mill on the bank of the river Stour. He went to London to study painting but then following his father’s wish returned home. He became a student at the Royal Academy School only at the age of 23. As an artist Constable developed his style with great independence, studying nature and the works of old masters. He never travelled to Italy. He is the author of portraits, but his talent fully developed in landscape painting. The landscapes of his dear green England are fresh and simple. Constable did not receive real recognition during lifetime. The reactionary critics and aristocracy were not friendly to Constable’s works. The country where Constable was first recognised when he was already 48 was France. In the eyes of French artists and critics Constable was an innovator in landscape painting.
“Stour” Constable painted the valleys of his dear England, its rivers and hills with windmills, its sea coast with boats. In Constable’s pictures you can see something of the whole country. You see the changeable English weather - rain and sunshine, cool evenings and the heat of the midday, the ocean winds carrying clouds and the damp air. The artist liked to study the sky and he had a special word for making sketches of the sky – “skying”. Constable paid much attention to sketches from nature and has left a great number of them. He knew how to find beauty in the smallest spot of his native country.
“The Hay Wain” One of the French critics wrote about Constable’s most popular painting “The Hay Wain”(1821): “The appearance of Constable’s works was a great event in the history of modern painting. His paintings sparkle with originality, based on truth and inspiration. There is nothing artificial in the picture. You see a cottage half covered with old shady trees, a clear brook and a cart crossing it. In the distance you see the typical countryside near London. You can feel the damp atmosphere of England. Such is one of Constable’s compositions in all its simplicity”.
“ The Cornfield” This picture is called “The Cornfield”. It was painted by a famous landscape artist John Constable in 1824. Constable was born and lived in Suffolk, one of the prettiest parts of England and painted its scenery many times. This is a typical view of the English rural landscape of the 19th century. The weather seems to be windy and the clouds are grey – perhaps it will rain soon. The trees are green and the corn stands high in the field, waiting for the harvest. The thirsty shepherd boy drinks from the stream, while the ass licks moisture from the leaves. The boy hasn’t noticed that the gate to the cornfield is broken, making a gap in the fence. The sheep may escape into the field and trample the crops. The sheepdog has noticed it and barks to attract the shepherd-boy’s attention, and the farmer in the field will close the gate.
The National Gallery in London The National Gallery has been in this building since 1838 which was built to house the collection of Old Masters Paintings offered to the nation by an English private collector, Sir George Beamount. Today the picture galleries of the National Gallery of Art contain more than 2,200 masterpieces of all European schools of painting from the 13-th to the 20-th centuries. There is also a very rich collection of British painters. Among the best painters represented in the Gallery are Hogarth, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Turner , Constable and many others.
The Tate Picture Gallery The Tate Picture Gallery is another famous museum in London. The Gallery was named after Henry Tate who presented 65 paintings and 2 sculptures(almost all of them the work of Victorian contemporaries) to the nation in 1890. It has become the national collection of British painting of all periods. It also contains the works of West European classics and modern artists. Besides there is a good collection of modern sculpture, both British and foreign. There is a huge collection of Turner’s works in the gallery – 300 oil paintings and over 20,000 works on paper.
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Презентация "English Painting of the Golden Age" была составлена для изучения темы "Understanding Art" (Unit 7, New Millennium English -11). Но она может быть использована для ознакомления учащихся старших классов с английской живописью как на уроках английского языка при работе по другим УМК, так и во внеклассной работе по предмету. Презентация дает наглядный и текстовый материал о 5 самых известных художниках "Золотого века" английской живописи (1730 -1830 г.г.) - У. Хогарте, Д. Рейнолдсе, Т. Гейнсборо, У. Тернере, Д. Констебле и их творчестве, а также картинных галереях Великобритании и России, где выставлены их работы.
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