SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS,Vintage Art Masterpieces,Vintage Prints for Sale Dr Johnson by SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS {English School}

Dr Johnson by SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS {English School}

Dr Johnson

by SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS {English School}

 

HOGARTH, in a man’s country, had made an art for men; had laid the founda­
tions for a national school of the amplest proportions; but his successors,
unhappily, were carried along by the tide of fashion. England, despite her
wars, was growing rich; and young gentlemen, before settling down to the
more serious business of sedentary living, embarked on the

Grand Tour, a
cultural jaunt into Italy where they collected Venetian pictures. In 1768, the
Royal Academy was founded with Reynolds as the first President; the artist
was elevated to an official status in society; a native school was called into
existence-a school of portrait paintmg which speedily prospered into a na­
tional industry.

In fifty years, English portraitists had exceeded three cen­
turies of Continental production. Reynolds painted more than two thousand;
Gainsborough at least one thousand; and Romney boasted of nine thousand
sittings in twenty years!

The British painters were clever and gifted men: their
purpose was to heighten gentility, and to portray the Englishman, his wife,
and his children as the most charming people in the world.

Sir Joshua Reynolds, the most famous, was ambitious and scholarly, and,
to his clientele, the master of a new school of art well grounded in the ancient
traditions. He returned from Italy, after three years of study, filled with ven­
eration for classical art, and his Discourses-his lectures to his pupils at the
Academy-laid down a set of principles for the formation of a national art
in the grand style, an amalgamation of the loftiest elements of the Italians,
with an admixture of Rembrandt and a curtsey to Van Dyck.

 

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But in practice, Sir Joshua often confused the grand style with the high
station of his subjects, flattering his women ostensibly into goddesses or graces,
but actually into high and mighty creatures surrounded by mythological acces­
sories.

Children fascinated him, and he painted them somewhat fancifully but
with the ease and natural readiness he preached to his pupils. In his best por­
traits of men, he forgot his classical paraphernalia and painted British heroes.
His masterpiece is Dr. Johnson, a massive characterization and one of the most
distinguished studies of the human head in British art.

In the lexicographer,
he found an ideal subject: an autocrat like himself, his closest friend, a man
of size and hidden depths of spirit. Reynolds painted his ponderous bulk with
dignity and assurance, and by accentuating the Doctor’s uncouth loftiness,
came within striking distance of the ideal style of his ambitions.

 

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