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Why is it called the Golden Age of English Painting?
Translating the arts through a single form of expression is obviously complex, so to speak of “English painting” can only be restrictive with regard to the different currents and artists over the different centuries. French Art History generally concedes to designate a particular era as the golden age of English painting.
This period goes back to the end of the 18th century, during the reign of George III (1760-1820), which made its mark on the history of Great Britain, notably with the creation of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1768. This institution, which promoted artistic creation, enabled the status of the artist to be professionalised. English painting then refers to a pictorial revolution during the 18th and 19th centuries that heralded the European Romantic movement and the Impressionist movement.
Pictorial innovation through portrait, landscape and genre painting
From 1760 onwards, several generations of artists contributed to the renewal of pictorial language of English painting. The emergence of new themes that were to be treated differently by the artists. The increase in the number of portraits can be explained in particular by a certain economic prosperity of the bourgeoisie, where childhood was represented in intimate canvases.
From the 18th century, subjectivity was thus the master in the creation of a work. Genre paintings thus reflected a certain sensitivity, for example the conversation pieces where the group portrait is presented as an informal meeting, held in an intimate setting. In addition, the landscape was be reinterpreted in terms of pictorial poetry. Painting the English countryside became a real source of inspiration, and characterized a narrative role, tinged with realism that would feed poetic imagination.
Major artists of British painting
Creating an artist’s status thus introduced a distinction between the recognised status of “master” and other artists. Several artists were to build this golden age of British painting, using topographical watercolour and the classical landscapes of Rome from the 17th century, from 1780. Watercolour allows for the subtle transcription of colour variations, which allows for atmospheric effects. Gainsborough was the precursor to a new, more fluid and suggestive use of watercolour.
Major artists included Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), John Constable (1776-1837), Henry Fusel (1741-1825), Johan Offaly (1733-1810) and of course William Turner (1775-1851). Joshua Reynolds was the precursor to a new genre of portraiture, Martin Myrone underlined the differences between the painters, stating “the British sky becomes more important, is brighter, especially in Wilson, whom Turner considers to be the pioneer of this genre”. William Turner embodies this golden age while at the same time standing out with predominant pictorial innovation. His works often amount to several millions of euros on today’s art market.
How do we appraise your British painting?
Requesting an online valuation of your painting is simple and entirely free of charge. You just need to complete our appraisal form with a brief description and some photos. This information will be sent directly to one of our British painting experts who will provide you with a price range and sales advice.
A team of experts and auctioneers
If you own a British painting, use our online form for a free appraisal.
You will then be contacted by a member of our team of experts and auctioneers to give you an independent opinion of the market price. Should you wish to sell your painting, our specialists will also advise you on the various options available for selling at the best price.