Тhe theme of art is close to me from early childhood. It has always attracted me. Every year there are more and more opportunities to dive into the world of beauty, something that not everyone can understand, but only the creative one.
This interest has turned into my hobby, and even into my life. I study at an art school where I get a lot of knowledge and inspiration for further studying. Once I saw a landscape byWilliam Turner and got interested in English painting.
How does it differ from Russian painting? Are the motives and content of the works the same or different? So, the idea of the present research appeared.
Hypothesis: we dare to assume that artists from different countries perceive the world around differently, the plots and the technique of work are significantly different.
The purpose of the present work is to draw a parallel between Russian and English painting of the 18th and 19th centuries.
To fulfil the aim, we determined the following tasks.
Give a brief characteristic of Neoclassicism and Romanticism period, era in the history of the Western arts roughly coinciding with the 18th and 19th century.
Compare some great Russian and English painters of this period and their works.
Make a conclusion.
Draw attention to the open topic.
Classicism was the last European style common to all countries, and with its collapse the unity of style was broken. Art became part of the spiritual heritage of those nations which had been stimulated into greater national awareness by Romanticism, but there was no unity among the nations in regard to creative work. Romanticism rejected the precepts of order, calm, harmony, and rationality that typified Classicism in general and late 18th-century Neoclassicism in particular.
Romanticism emphasized the individual, the irrational, the imaginative, the emotional, and the transcendental.
Еnglish painting of that time was limited to two genres: portrait painting and landscape painting. The painters and the works of art we are going to talk about are relevant to the prosperity of the National English painting school.
“The main thing to strive for in art is to truly comprehend the beautiful in nature”, said William Turner.
Joseph Mallord William Turner is known for his pictures of the countryside, the sea, the sky, in which he uses colour and light to show the force of the wind and sea.
Ivan Aivazovski undoubtedly stands out off Russian artists of this genre.
His dramatic depiction of a sea storm made him extremely famous. We can’t but agree with Dostoevsky who wrote, “…In his storm there is the thrill, the eternal beauty that startles a viewer is a real life storm”.
We have chosen the two works of art : “Fishermen in the sea” (1796) by William Turner and “After the storm. Moon rise” (1894) by Ivan Aivazovski.
Fishermen in the sea. 1796
After the storm. Moon rise. 1894
Let’s look at the pictures. At first sight we can see quite few differences in spite of the period that separates them. To start with, it’s the theme that connects the pictures.The moon is appearing mysteriously to theviewer through the curtain of dark clouds. It opens the impenetrable darkness. This is the basis of the plot of the wonderful paintings. Both pictures are painted in deep dark colours which along with a stormy sea makes you feel anxious, on the one hand, but, on the other hand, the moonlight in the center of the picture carries the hope of salvation and the belief that the storm is about to end and you just have to withstand its final blows. So, everything about the pictures is unusual and harmonious.
The artists managed to convey realistically not only the plot itself, but also the mood of the work - the power and beauty of the sea, vulnerability of a man to its greatness.
One difference which stands out is using warm colours by Aivazovsky. It creates even greater confidence in the victory of a man over nature. Like in most other paintings by Aivazovsky, the sea does not cause a static sensation. It moves, it boils, it is alive. This is the greatest talent of Ivan Aivazovsky: to convey the whole dynamic of the raging elements with the slightest hues of color, creating a sense of reality of each wave.
Thus, we see these two pictures have much in common although they were painted with a difference of almost a hundred years. They are similar including the plot, the color scheme, and the mood. The viewers can easily highlight the features of Romanticism in them: a deepened appreciation of the beauties of nature, a general exaltation of emotion over reason.
Each work leaves a lasting impression with us.
Now we are to compare the two works of art painted by outstanding masters of portraiture Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) and Vladimir Borovikovsky (1757- 1825). We can define the traits of sentimentalism that is typical for that period. The landscape is not kept in the background but in most cases man and nature are fused in a single whole.
Portrait of а Lady in Blue
Portrait of Lopukhina
Portrait of а Lady in Blue (late 1770s-early 1780s) by Thomas Gainsborough is the only work by the master in the Hermitage collection. It is widely regarded as a brilliant example of the style of this painter. His palette is rich, but he invariably kept to a cool colour scheme, preferring blues.
This portrait is believed to be one of Gainsborough’s most successful paintings. The refined tonal combinations and the particular of painting – applying very fluid paints in a semi-transparent layer, his rapid strokes made with a fine brush – emphasize the nobility and elegance of the image of the young woman.
The sitter expresses pleasure and bemusement. Blues and greens set a mood of romantic dreaminess.
Portrait of Lopukhina by Vladimir Borovikovsky (1797).
The greatest achievements of eighteenth-century Russian painting are connected with the portrait genre. Vladimir Borovikovsky (1757-1825) constitutes the glory of Russian eighteenth-century art. His portraits are pervaded by a general poetic mood, an admiration for the beauty of the human face and heartfelt emotions.
Along with general European trends some bright features of the national painting can be seen in the picture above.
Looking at this picture, you are surrounded by a whirlpool of opposing feelings and emotions. It is quite possible that at first you may think that this girl’s eyes are fixated on you, and she may seem slightly arrogant. But after a minute, her gaze appears to be childishly naïve. It was said that young ladies, admired by the beauty of the girl depicted in the portrait, often fainted.
Borovikovsky managed to combine the incompatible. Spikelets of wheat and cornflowers at the background also carry a secret meaning. If you turn to the Slavic symbols, you see that the rye is a symbol of life and prosperity. Cornflower is a symbol of life after death. By the way, the girl’s belt has the same cornflower-blue color as the flowers in the picture.
You can not ignore the faded rose - a symbol of death. Thus, we can guess that Lopukhina is between life and death. And so, we can conclude that the portrait of Lopukhina is a kind of mystical work of art. Soon after posing for the portrait, the girl fell ill and died.
I would say the most striking similarity of the portraits that makes them special is a frank look in the eyes that is mysterious at the same time. I can’t help admiring the paintings, their sensitivity. They are such evocative pictures –ones, which we could just look at for ages.
To sum upeverything we said above we can conclude the following:
1 The pictures viewed in the present work have features of Classicism and Romanticism: harmony, emotions and senses, the beauty of nature, and a heightened examination of human personality and its moods. Imagination leads to transcendent experience and spiritual truth, the mysterious, the weird.
2 There are more similarities than differences between compared portraits and seascapes by English and Russian painters of 18th and 19th century.
3 Despite obvious common features we also see national and ethnic cultural origins in Russian and English paintings.
We can affirm these painters “turned a yellow spot into the Sun”.
Links & resources:
1Коллекция Эрмитажа «Английская живопись XVI–XIX веков» [Электронный ресурс]- Режим доступа: https://www.hermitagemuseum.org/wps/portal/hermitage/digital-collection/01.+Paintings/38759/