- English art
English art is the body of
visual artsoriginating from the nation of England, in the form of a continuous tradition. Following historical surveys such as "Creative Art In England" by William Johnstone (1936 and 1950), Nikolaus Pevsnerattempted a definition in his 1956 book "The Englishness of English Art", as did Sir Roy Strongin his 2000 book "The Spirit of Britain: A narrative history of the arts", and Peter Ackroydin his 2002 book "The Origins of the English Imagination".
Although medieval English painting, mostly religious, had a strong national tradition and was at times influential on the rest of Europe, this was in decline from the 15th century and the
Protestant Reformationnot only brought the tradition to an abrupt stop but resulted in the destruction of almost all wall-paintings. Only illuminated manuscriptsnow survive in good numbers.
ixteenth and Seventeenth centuries
From the Renaissance until the early 18th century the best painters working in England were imported, often from
Flanders. These included Hans Holbein the Younger, Van Dyck, Rubens, Orazio Gentileschiand his daughter Artemesia, Sir Peter Lelyand Sir Godfrey Kneller. An exception must be made for the portrait miniature, where a strong English tradition began with the Elizabethan Nicholas Hilliard, who had learnt from Continental artists, and continued with Isaac Oliverand many other artists. By the following century a number of significant English painters of fullsize portraits began to emerge, and towards the end of the century the other great English specialism, of landscape painting, also began to be practiced by natives. Both were heavily influenced by Anthony Van Dyckin particular, although he does not seem to have trained any English painters himself. During the 17th century the English nobility also became important collectors of European art, led by King Charles I and Thomas Howard, 21st Earl of Arundelin the first half of the century. By the end of the century the Grand Tourhad become established for wealthy young Englishmen.
In the 18th century, English painting finally developed a distinct style and tradition again, still concentrating on portraits and landscapes, but also attempting to find a successful approach to
history painting, regarded as the highest of the hierarchy of genres.
James Thornhill's paintings were executed in the Baroquestyle of the European Continentand William Hogarthmay be called the first English artist — English in habits, disposition, and temperament, as well as by birth. His satirical works, full of black humor, are originally English, pointing out to contemporary society the deformities, weaknesses and vices of Londonlife.
portraitists were Thomas Gainsborough; Sir Joshua Reynolds, founder of the Royal Academy of Arts; George Romney; and Sir Thomas Lawrence. Joseph Wright of Derbywas well known for his minute candlelight pictures, George Stubbsfor his animal paintings.
The early 19th century also saw the emergence of the
Norwich schoolof painters. Influenced by Dutch landscape painting and the landscape of Norfolk, the Norwich School were the first provincial art-movement outside of London. Short-lived due to sparse patronage and internal faction prominent members include 'founding father' John Crome, John Sell Cotmannotable for his water-colours in particular and the promising but short-lived maritime painter Joseph Stannard. Paul Sandbywas called the father of English watercolour painting. Other notable 18th and 19th-century landscape painters include Richard Wilson; George Morland; John Robert Cozens; Thomas Girtin; John Constable; J. M. W. Turner; and John Linnell.
The Pre-Raphaelite movement, established in the 1840s, dominated English art in the second half of the 19th century. Its members —
William Holman Hunt; Dante Gabriel Rossetti; John Everett Millaisand others — concentrated on religious, literary, and genre worksexecuted in a colorful and minutely detailed almost photographic style.
Its earliest known developed form, one that continues to the present-day, is arguably the decorative surface pattern work exemplified by the
Lindisfarne Gospelsand the exterior carving of Anglo-Saxon churches and monuments. Ackroyd argues that the concern for a light and delicate outline, for surface pattern for its own sake, and for patterns and borders that threaten to overwhelm the portrayal of figures, have all been long-standing characteristics of a continuous English art. Other elements Ackroyd sees as inherited from the early Celtic church are a concern to portray the essence of animals, a tendency to understatement, and a concern for repeating structures that extends from Celtic knotworkto church organmusic to Staffordshireceramic-ware to stained glasswindows and to the wallpapers of William Morris. Strong agrees with Ackroyd on all these points.
English anti-intellectualism has led them to easily mingle fiction with observed facts, in order to invent 'traditions', but this has often given fresh life to traditions that would otherwise have gone stale. Pevsner noted, in the context of a consummate arts professionalism, a detachment and self-effacement among artists that often led them to belittle the act of creation, and to be willing to give away their ideas to be re-used by other artists.
Charles I of Englandbuilt up a great royal collection of art. This was largely saved for the nation, due to a combination of Cromwell's own inventory of the royal collection and the English Commonwealth's bureaucratic interia. So little had been sold by the time that Charles II was restored, that Charles was able to restore much of his late father's collection. [Brotton, Jerry. "The Sale of the Late King's Goods: Charles I and His Art Collection"]
It is popularly considered that English
landscape paintingtypifies English art, inspired largely from the love of the pastoralarising from the poetry of Edmund Spenser, and mirroring as it does the development of larger country houses set in a pastoral rural landscape. Although it should be noted that English art lies equally in the tendency toward melancholia, often expressed as a love of the continuity of the past with the present, and a love of ghosts, and marvelous or gothic ruins.
As the population of England grew during the
industrial revolution, a concern for privacy and smaller gardens becomes more notable in English art. There was also a new found appreciation of the open landscapes of romantic wilderness, and a concern for the ancient folk arts. William Morrisis particularly associated with this latter trend, as were the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Another important influence, from about 1890 until 1926, was the growing knowledge about the visual art of Japan.
Being a coastal and sea-faring island nation, English art has often portrayed the coast and the
sea. Being a nation of four distinct seasons, and changeable weather, weather effects have often been portrayed in English art. Weather and light effects on the English landscape have been a pre-eminent aspect of modern British landscape photography.
List of British painters
The Analysis of Beauty" by William Hogarth(1753)
Museums in England
Arts Council England
Museums exhibiting English art
Victoria and Albert Museum
* National Portrait Gallery
* National Gallery
Noted artists of the English style
J. M. W. Turner
L. S. Lowry
*Ellis Waterhouse, "Painting in Britain, 1530-1790", 4th Edn, 1978, Penguin Books (now Yale History of Art series)
Nikolaus Pevsner, "The Englishness of English Art" (London, 1956)
*William Gaunt, "The Great Century of British Painting: Hogarth to Turner" (London, 1971)
*Joseph Burke, "English Art, 1714–1800" (Oxford, 1976)
*David Bindman (ed.), "The
Thames and HudsonEncyclopaedia of British Art" (London, 1985)
*William Vaughan, "British Painting: The Golden Age from Hogarth to Turner" (London, 1999)
* [http://ml.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/citation/I/4/359?ck=nck Article] by Philip Hagreen
* [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0027-4224(192007)1%3A3%3C269%3ATESOPI%3E2.0.CO%3B2-J JSTOR copy of article]
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