Friday, 21 January 2011

The Victorian Artists

"The Music Lesson" by Lord Leighton

I've always loved the paintings of the Victorian artists. For many years people turned their backs on works by artists such as John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt, John William Waterhouse, Lord Leighton and Lawrence Alma-Tadema, rejecting them as cheesy and overworked.

"The Pot Of Basil" by Holman Hunt

Yet these and other realist artists working in the 19th century reached amazing heights of artistic representation in their work. Never had the human form looked so real and natural as it did in their work. They reintroduced dazzling colour and beautifully observed nature into their paintings, even as photography appeared to kill off the genre.

I've recently been introduced to another artist of the period whose work I have now added to my stable of favourites. His name is William-Adolphe Bouguereau and, unlike the other artists I mentioned, he worked in France to produce paintings on classical themes. Many of his pieces are of nude women and exquisitely painted observations of the human form.

"After The Bath" by Bouguereau

Classical realist painting fell from grace as the impressionists gained popularity. Yet they have so much to teach us about composition, the use of colour and of draughtsmanship, as well as classical beauty.

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