The painting of Endymion Porter, thefriend and agent of Charles I in the purchase of works of art, is generally accounted Dobson's masterpiece. The most striking aspect of the work is its realism. Though Endymion Porter is portrayed as a sportsman who has just shot a hare, there is a stern look about his features which seems to convey that this is wartime.
The solemnity of the times is also reflected in the portraiture produced during the Commonwealth period and one would naturally expect an even greater refection of elegance than that of Dobson during the Puritan dominance. Indeed a prospect of unsparing realism is set out in Cromwell's admonition--to "remark all these ruffness, pimples, warts" and paint " everything as you see in me".
The corresponding painter to Dobson on the Parliamentary side, however, Robert Walker, was a much less original artist and still closely imitated Van Dyck's graceful style.
A number of other portrait painters are of interest by reason of their subjects. John Greenhill (c. 1644--76) is of some note as one of the first artists to depict English actors in costume. John Riley (1646--91) was an artist whose work is distinguished by a grave reticence. In succession to Lely he painted many eminent people, including Dryden, and some minor folk, as for example the aged housemaid Bridget Holmes. He was described by Horace Walpole as "one of the best native painters who have flourished in England".
4) Painting In The 18th Century.
The eighteenth century was the great age of British painting. It was in this period that British art attained a distinct national character. In the seventeenth century, art in Britain had been dominated largely by the Flemish artist, Anthony van Dyck. In the early eighteenth century, although influenced by Continental movements, particularly by French rococo, British art began to develop nindependently. William Hogarth, born just before the turn of the century, was the first major aritst to reject foreign influence and establish a kind of art whose themes and subjects were thoroughly British. His penetrating, witty portrayal of the contemporary scene, his protest against social injustice and his attack on the vulgtarities of fashianable society make him one of the most original and significant of British artists.
Hogarth was followed by a row of illustrious painters: Thomas Cainsborough, with his lyrical landscapes, "fancy pictures" and portraits; the intellectual Sir Joshua Reynolds, who painted charming society portraits and became the first president of the Royal Academy; and George Stubbs, who is only now being recognized as an artist of the greatest visual perception and sensitivity. There are many others, including Wright of Derby, Wilson, Lawrence, Ramsay, Raeburn, Romney, Wheatley, and the young Turner.
5) Satirical Genre Painting
5.1) William Hogarth(1697--1764)
William Hogarth was unquestionably one of the greatest of English artists and a man of remarkably individual character and thought. It was his achievement to give a comprehensive view of social life within the framework of moralistic and dramatic narrative. He produced portraits which brought a fresh vitality and truth into the jaded profession of what he called "phizmongering". He observed both high life and low with a keen and critical eye and his range of observation was accompanied by an exceptional capacity for dramatic composition, and in painting by a technical quality which adds beauty to pictures containing an element of satire of caricature.
A small stocky man with blunt pugnacious features and alert blue eyes, he had all the sharp-wittedness of the born Cockney and an insular pride which led to his vigorous attacks on the exaggerated respect for fereign artists and the taste of would-be connoisseurs who brought over (as he said) "shiploads of dead Christs, Madonnas and Holy Families" by inferior hands. Thereis no reason to suppose he had anything but respect for the great Italian masters, though he deliberately took a provocative attitude. What he objected to as much as anything was the absurd veneration of the darkness produced by time and varnish as well as the assumption that English painters were necessarily inferior to others. A forthrightness of statement may perhaps be related to hes North-country inheritance, for his father came to London from West-morland, but was in any case the expression of a democratic outlook and unswervingly honest intelligence.
The fact that he was apprenticed as a boy to a silver-plate engraver has a considerable bearing on Hogarth's development. It instilled a decorative sense which is never absent from his most realistic productions. It introduced him to the world of prints, after famous masters or by the satirical commentators of an earlier day. It is the engraver's sense of line coupled with a regard for the value of Rococo curvature which governs his essay on aesthetics, The Analysis of Beauty.
As a painter Hogarth may be assumed to have learned the craft in Thornhill's "academy", though his freshness of colour and feeling for the creamy substance of oil paint suggest more acquaintance than he admitted to with the technique of his French contemporaries. His first success as a painter was in the "conversation pieces" in which his bent as an artist found a logical beginning. These informal groups of family and friends surrounded by the customary necessariesof their day-to-day life were congenial in permitting him to treat a pictureas astage. He was not the inventor of the genre, which can be traced back to Dutch and Flemish art of the seventeenth century and in which he had contemporary rivals. Many were produced when he was about thirty and soon after he made his clandestine match with Thornhill's daughter in 1729, when extraefforts to gain a livelihood became necessary. With many felicities of detail and arrangement they show Hogarth still in a restrained and decorous mood. A step nearer to the comprehensive view of life was the picture of an actual stage, the scene from The Beggar's Opera with which he scored a great success about 1730, making sveral versions of the painting. Two prospects must have been revealed to him as a result, the idea of constructing his own pictorial drama comprising various scenes of social life, and that of reaching a wider public through the means of engraving. The first successful siries: "The Harlot's Progress, " of which only the engraving now exist, was immediately followed by the tremendous verve and riot of "The Rake's Progress", c. 1732; the masterpiece of the story series the "Marriage la Mode" followed after an interval of twelve years.
As a painter of social life, Hogarth shows the benefit of the system of memory training which he made a self-discipine. London was his universe and he displayed his mastery in painting every aspect of its people and architecture, from the mansion in Arlington Street, the interior of which provided the setting for the disillusioned couple in the second scene of the "Marriage la Mode", to the dreadful aspect of Bedlam. Yet he was not content with one line of development only and the work of his mature years takes a varied course. He could not resist the temptation to attempt a revalry with the history painters, though with little successs. The Biblical compositions for St. Bartholomew's Hospital on which he embarked after "The Rake's Progress" were not of a kind to convey his real genius. He is sometimes satirical as in "The March of the Guards towards Scotland", and the "Oh the Roast Beef of Old England!(Calais Gate)", which was a product of his single expeditionabroad with its John Bull comment on the condition of France, and also the "Election"series of 1755 with its richness of comedy. In portraiture he displays a great variety. The charm of childhood, the ability to compose a vivid group, a delightful delicacy of colour appear in the "Graham Children" of 1742. The portrait heads of his servants are penetrating studies of character. The painting of Captain Coram, the philanthropic sea captain who took a leading part in the foundation of the Foundling Hospital, adapts the formality of the ceremonial portrait to a democratic level with a singularlyengaging effects. The quality of Hogarth as an artist is seen to advantage in his sketches and one sketch in particular, the famous "Shrimp Girl" quickly executed with a limited range of colour, stands alone in his work, taking its place among the masterpieces of the world in its harmonyof form and content, its freshness and vitality.