Our life seems to be impossible without art. It really occupies an important part in our daily life. Art offers us not only pleasure and amusement but it is also a vehicle of culture and education. Art penetrates into all spheres and sides of our life and makes it brighter, richer and more intellectual. People like and know different types of art. Some of them are fond of painting. Others have a special liking for music or they have a passion for literature. But all of us cant help admiring the canvases of such great painters as Thomas Gainsborough, Rembrand etc. So, art units different people, influences the development of personality, makes our innerworld richer, feels our soul with different feelings. It makes us stronger, inforces us in difficult situations. Time is flying art is forever.
Painting in England began to develop later than in over European countries. That's why some of the greatest foreign masters were attracted to England by the titles of nobility conferred upon them. Holbein, Antonio Mor, Rubens, Van Dyck were almost English painters during longer or shorter periods of their lives.
Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1599 - 1641), who married the daughter of an English Lord and who died in London is considered to be the father of the English portrait school. He worked at the court of Karl I, was an extremely hard working painter. His most famous works are: his self portrait, "Portrait of the Man" and "Karl I".
But not until William Hogarth (1697 - 1764) do we find a painter truly English. Hogarth was the printers son, uneducated, but a curious observer of man and manners. His first work dates from 1730. Among his best works are "Captain Coram", "The Shrimp Girl", serial "Mode Marriage". His pictures of social life brought him fame and position in the society. One of his serials "Mode Marriage" consists of 6 pictures. "The Marriage Contract" is the first.
Both fathers are siting to the right. One of them an earl is proudly pointing to his family tree. The other is reading the marriage contract. The Earls son is looking at himself with pleasure in looking glass. The daughter of the second man is playing with her wedding ring and listening to the complements of a young lawyer. The subject matter of the picture is the protest against marriage for money and vanity. Other pictures of this serial have the same subject matter.
Hogarth was sure that success came to him due to hard labor. He wrote "Genius is nothing , labor is diligence."
Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723 - 1792) is one of the outstanding British portraitists, who had an important influence on his contemporaries. Within a short period of time he achieved a considerable success. In 1755, at the highest point of his career he painted 120 portraits. When, in 1768, the Royal Academy of Arts was founded, he naturally became its first president. In 1784 he became a principal painter of the King. He was a highly educated person, wonderful colorist. His colors are difficult to judge today, because they were not scientifically applied. That's why many of his paintings have cracked and faided. Among his best works are: "Cupid untiring the Zone of Venus" and "Mrs. Siddons". They are well-known all over the world. For 20 years he was the most prominent artist of his day even in the face of rising Gainsborough. Thomas Gainsborough (1727 - 1788) succeeded brilliantly as a portrait painter. Society went to him for portraits. A good amateur violinist and a lover of drama, he was an artistic person by nature. Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough created a national type of the English portrait. His manner of painting differs from Reynolds. Thomas Gainsborough's portraits of actors, actresses and his close friends are famous. One of his greatest friends was Richard Sheridan, the dramatist, whose portrait belongs to one of the best pictures of this painter. Even in his portraits Thomas Gainsborough is an out-of-door painter. The backgrounds of his portraits are often well-observed country scenes. He was one of the first to be elected to the newly established London Academy of Arts. Thomas Gainsborough is acknowledge as an excellent women painter. "The Portrait of the Duchess de Befou", "Mrs. Siddons", "Two Daughters" are among his best creatures. His portraits are painted in clear tones in which blue and gray predominate. One of his best pictures is the famous "Blue boy". His other masterpiece is "The Portrait of Duchess de Befou".
We can see a young noble woman, her charming face is full of freshness and lifeness. The charm of the expression of her face and the coloring are characteristic for the artists style. Her calm pose, the elegance of her gesture of her hand stresses her nobility. Outwardly we may see that in this portrait Gainsbourough followed the rules of traditional ceremonial portraits. But it is not so. The partied lips of the woman, a timid gesture of her hand help to create a true impression of the sitter. The artist has a wonderful sense of color, line and composition. He makes the affective use of light and shade. The picture is executed mostly in light tones in the dark background. Numerous shades of blue prevail in the picture. The combination striking of pink shades in her face and body are contrasted with gray and blue shades on her pounded hair, dress and scurf. It makes the impression of freshness and beauty. Gainsbourough depicts the details of her dress skillfully. The woman is graceful and charming. The picture glorifies the idea of woman's beauty. It is exhibited in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.
Thomas Gainsbourough greatly influenced the English school of landscape painting. He was one of the first English artists who painted his native land. His delicate understanding of nature is especially felt in the pictures where he showed peasants. The best landscape of his are: "Watering Place" and "Harvest Wagon". Both of them are exhibited in the National Gallery. Among his other landscapes are: "The Sunset", "The Market Card" and "The Cottage Door". His great love for the countryside and his ability to show it made him an innovator in this field. He was the first English artist who painted his native countryside so sincerely.
Thomas Lawrence (1768 - 1839) was the painter of kings, princes, great diplomats and generals. All these are presented in large, full-dressed portraits, painted with elegance. His portrait of Vorontsov (1821) is an example of the brilliant official portrait. The portrait presents a young general, a brilliant man of fashion but it doesn't characterize his nature
Landscape is another glory of English art because in it English art also rose to supreme highs. John Constable (1776 - 1837) is one of the most outstanding painters, who developed his own style of painting. He considered sketch, made directly from nature, the first task of a landscape painter. He introduced green into his painting: the green of trees, the green of summer, all the greens which until then other painters had refused to see. He made quick sketches based on his first impressions of natural beauties. John Constable used broken touches of color. His work is important as the beginning of the impressionist school. He was a son of a wealthy miller. He began to take interest in landscape painting while he was at Dedham grammar school. His father didn't favor art as the profession and Constable as a boy worked almost secretly, painting in the cottage of the local plumber, who was an amateur painter by nature himself. Constable left school to work for his fathers business. During his spare time he studied painting. His keen artistic interest was so strong that his father allowed him to visit London where he began to study sketching. After 2 years in London he returned to his fathers business for a year. The year spent at his fathers mill was a great importance for him. He learned to watch the sky with the exactness of a miller, to note the direction of the wind, the significance of the clouds. In 1799 Constable entered the Royal Academy school in London. In his paintings the artist showed the new altitude to the nature. He refused to learn works of famous landscape painters and decided to go to the country and to paint nature as he saw it. Constable depicted nature in his own realistic way, he was the first artist who began to paint sketches which were as big as paintings. He was able to show the inside life of nature. John Constables innovation influenced greatly the development of French landscape painting. In 1826, when he was 50, he showed a number of landscapes in the Paris salon. Among them was the famous "Hay Wain", painted in 1821, for which the painter was awarded the Gold Medal. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1829, but he felt, that this honor had come too late in life to have much meaning. Among his best landscapes are: "The Flatford Mill", "A Farm in the Valley", "Hay Wain", "The Flatford Mill", "Cottage door", Dedham Valley", "The Corn Field", etc.
William Joseph Turner (1774 - 1851) was the greatest English romantic, landscape and marine painter. He was a son of a fashionable barber, started drawing and painting at his early age. His father used to sell the boys drawings to his customers and in such a way he earned money for the boys learning of art. At 14 he entered the Royal Academy School. His water-colors were exhibited at the Royal Academy when he was only 15. At 18 he started his own studio and received a commission to make drawings for magazines. For some years he tramped over Wales and Western England. As Turner never married, he devoted his life to art. Visitors were rarely admitted to his house and no one was aloud to see him at work. He loved his paintings as a man loves his children. At the age of 27 he was elected as a Royal Academician. From that time his paintings became at great demand and brought good money. The last years of his life he spent in a little cottage at Chelsea. He liked to watch the sunrise and sunset. And it is said, that only a hour before his death he had his chair wheeled to the window, so that he might look for the last time at the sun, shining upon the river. During his life Turner created some hundreds of paintings and some thousands of water-colors and drawings. After his death his own entire collection of paintings and drawings was willed to the nation. They are exhibited at the National and Tate Galleries in London. Some of his famous pictures are: "The Fighting Temeraire", "Rain, Steam and Speed", "Light and Color", "Fisherman at Sea" and others. William Turner dedicated most of his paintings to the sea. He was a sailor and the sea in itself absorbed him. He gave to his seas mass and wave as well as movement. His waves seem to be alive.
"Calais Pier" is one of his greatest creations. The picture of a storm in it is real and impressive. In the center of the picture there is a boat with people in it. All the figures are living individuals. The farther objects in the picture failed in the darkness, attracting our attention to the people in the boat. Those who look at the picture can smell the water and hear the shout of the wind. Color as well as tone in William Turners pictures produces the effect of sunlight.
The name of William Turner is famous above all other landscape painters.
So if portrait painting is one of the glories of English art, landscape is another: in both directions it rose to supreme highs.