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The Hermitage Museum

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The State Hermitage (Russian: Госуда́рственный Эрмита́ж; IPA: [gəsʊˈdarstvʲɪnɨj ɪrmʲɪˈtaʂ], Gosudarstvenny Ermitazh) is a museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg, Russia. One of the largest[2][3] and oldest museums in the world, it was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and has been open to the public since 1852. Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display, comprise over three million items,[4] including the largest collection of paintings in the world. The collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along Palace Embankment, including the Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian emperors. Apart from them, the Menshikov Palace, Museum of Porcelain, Storage Facility at Staraya Derevnya and the eastern wing of the General Staff Building are also part of the museum. The museum has several exhibition centers abroad. The Hermitage is a federal state property. Since 1990, the director of the museum has been Mikhail Piotrovsky.

Of six buildings of the main museum complex, five, named the Winter Palace, Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage, New Hermitage and Hermitage Theatre, are open to the public. The entrance ticket for foreign tourists costs more than the fee paid by citizens of Russia and Belarus. However, entrance is free of charge the first Thursday of every month for all visitors, and free daily for students and children. The museum is closed on Mondays. The entrance for individual visitors is located in the Winter Palace, accessible from the Courtyard.
Originally, the only building housing the collection was the 'Small Hermitage'. Today, the Hermitage Museum encompasses many buildings on the Palace Embankment and its neighbourhoods. Apart from the Small Hermitage, the museum now also includes the 'Old Hermitage' (also called 'Large Hermitage'), the 'New Hermitage', the 'Hermitage Theatre', and the 'Winter Palace', the former main residence of the Russian tsars. In recent years, the Hermitage has expanded to the General Staff Building on the Palace Square in front of the Winter Palace, and the Menshikov Palace.
Origins: Catherine's collection[edit]

View of the Palace Embankment by Karl Beggrov, 1826. The Old Hermitage is in the middle of the painting.

Winter Palace in 2008
Catherine the Great started her art collection in 1764 by purchasing paintings from Berlin merchant Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky. He assembled the collection for Frederick II of Prussia who ultimately refused to purchase it. Thus, Gotzkowsky provided 225 or 317 paintings (conflicting accounts list both numbers), mainly Flemish and Dutch, including 90 not precisely identified, to the Russian crown.[6] The collection consisted of Rembrandt (13 paintings), Rubens (11 paintings), Jacob Jordaens (7 paintings), Anthony van Dyck (5 paintings), Paolo Veronese (5 paintings), Frans Hals (3 paintings, including Portrait of a Young Man with a Glove), Raphael (2 paintings), Holbein (2 paintings), Titian (1 painting), Jan Steen (The Idlers), Hendrik Goltzius, Dirck van Baburen, Hendrick van Balen and Gerrit van Honthorst.[7] Perhaps some of the most famous and most notable artwork that was a part of Catherine’s original purchase from Gotzkowsky was: Danae, painted by Rembrandt in 1636, Descent from the Cross, painted by Rembrandt in 1624, and Portrait of a Young Man Holding a Glove painted by Frans Hals in 1650. These paintings remain in the Hermitage collection today and were purchased by Catherine in 1764 among many others that were a part of Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky’s collection.[8]

In 1764, Catherine commissioned Yury Felten to build an extension on the east of the Winter Palace which he completed in 1766. Later it became the Southern Pavilion of the Small Hermitage. In 1767–1769, French architect Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe built the Northern Pavilion on the Neva embankment. Between 1767 and 1775, the extensions were connected by galleries, where Catherine put her collections.[9] The entire neoclassical building is now known as the Small Hermitage. During the time of Catherine, the Hermitage was not a public museum and few people were allowed to view its holdings. Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe also rebuilt rooms in the second story of the south-east corner block that was originally built for Elizabeth and later occupied by Peter III. The largest room in this particular apartment was the Audience Chamber (also called the Throne Hall) which consisted of 227 square meters.[8]

The Hermitage buildings served as a home and workplace for nearly a thousand people, including the Imperial family. In addition to this, they also served as an extravagant showplace for all kinds of Russian relics and displays of wealth prior to the art collections. Many events were held in these buildings including masquerades for the nobility, grand receptions and ceremonies for state and government officials. The “Hermitage complex” was a creation of Catherine’s that allowed all kinds of festivities to take place in the palace, the theatre and even the museum of the Hermitage. This helped solidify the Hermitage as not only a dwelling place for the Imperial family, but also as an important symbol and memorial to the imperial Russian state. Today, the palace and the museum are one and the same. In Catherine’s day, the Winter Palace served as a central part of what was called the Palace Square. The Palace Square served as St. Petersburg’s nerve center by linking it to all the city’s most important buildings. The presence of the Palace Square was extremely significant to the urban development of St. Petersburg, and while it became less of a nerve center later into the 20th century, its symbolic value was still very much preserved.[10]

Catherine acquired the best collections offered for sale by the heirs of prominent collectors. In 1769, she purchased Brühl's collection, consisting of over 600 paintings and a vast number of prints and drawings, in Saxony. Three years later, she bought Crozat's collection of paintings in France with the assistance of Denis Diderot. Next, in 1779, she acquired the collection of 198 paintings that once belonged to Robert Walpole in London followed by a collection of 119 paintings in Paris from Count Baudouin in 1781. Catherine’s favorite items to collect were believed to be engraved gems and cameos. At the inaugural exhibit of the Hermitage, opened by the Prince of Wales in November 2000, there was an entire gallery devoted to representing and displaying Catherine’s favorite items. In this gallery her cameos are displayed along with cabinet made by David Roentgen, which holds her engraved gems. As the symbol of Minerva was frequently used and favored by Catherine to represent her patronage of the arts, a cameo of Catherine as Minerva is also displayed here. This particular cameo was created for her by her daughter-in-law, the Grand Duchess Maria Fyodorovna. This is only a small representation of Catherine’s vast collection of many antique and contemporary engraved gems and cameos.[11]

The collection soon overgrew the building. In her lifetime, Catherine acquired 4,000 paintings from the old masters, 38,000 books, 10,000 engraved gems, 10,000 drawings, 16,000 coins and medals and a natural history collection filling two galleries,[12] so in 1771 she commissioned Yury Felten to build another major extension. The neoclassical building was completed in 1787 and has come to be known as the Large Hermitage or Old Hermitage. Catherine also gave the name of the Hermitage to her private theatre, built nearby between 1783 and 1787 by the Italian architect Giacomo Quarenghi.[13] In London in 1787, Catherine acquired the collection of sculpture that belonged to Lyde Browne, mostly Ancient Roman marbles. Catherine used them to adorn the Catherine Palace and park in Tsarskoye Selo, but later they became the core of the Classical Antiquities collection of the Hermitage. From 1787 to 1792, Quarenghi designed and built a wing along the Winter Canal with the Raphael Loggias to replicate the loggia in the Apostolic Palace in Rome designed by Donato Bramante and frescoed by Raphael.[9][14][15] The loggias in Saint Petersburg were adorned with copies of Vatican frescoes painted by Cristopher Unterberger and his workshop in the 1780s.

Catherine succeeded in accomplishing a huge achievement in the art world. She collected thousands of impressive pieces of artwork that were numerous in size and value. In her collection, at least 4,000 paintings came to rival the older and more prestigious museums of Western Europe. Catherine took great pride in her collection, and actively participated in extensive competitive art gathering and collecting that was prevalent in European royal court culture. Through Catherine’s art collection, she gained European acknowledgment and acceptance, and portrayed Russia as an enlightened society, another feat that Catherine took great pride in. Catherine went on to invest much of her identity in being a patron for the arts. She was particularly fond of the popular deity, Minerva, whose characteristics according to classical tradition are symbolic of military prowess, wisdom, and patronage of the arts. Using the title, Catherine the Minerva, she personally created new institutions of literature and culture and also participated in many projects of her own, mostly having to do with play writing. The representation of Catherine alongside Minerva would come to be a known tradition of enlightened patronage in Russia.[16]

Expansion in the 19th century[edit]

The Raphael Loggias

Portico with atlantes, historical entrance
In 1815, Alexander I of Russia purchased 38 pictures from the heirs of Joséphine de Beauharnais, most of which had been looted by the French in Kassel during the war. The Hermitage collection of Rembrandts was then considered the largest in the world. Also among Alexander's purchases from Josephine's estate were the first four sculptures by the neoclassical Italian sculptor Antonio Canova to enter the Hermitage collection.

Eventually the imperial collections were enriched by Greek and Scythian artifacts excavated within the Russian Empire.

Between 1840 and 1843, Vasily Stasov redesigned the interiors of the Southern Pavilion of the Small Hermitage. In 1838, Nicholas I commissioned the neoclassical German architect Leo von Klenze to design a building for the public museum. Space for the museum was made next to the Small Hermitage by the demolition of the Shepelev Palace and royal stables. The construction was overseen by the Russian architects Vasily Stasov and Nikolai Yefimov in 1842–1851 and incorporated Quarenghi's wing with the Raphael Loggias.

In 1851, in Venice the museum acquired the collection of Cristoforo Barbarigo, including five more canvases by Titian. Today, all of the paintings but one (Danaë) by Titian in the Hermitage Museum came to St. Petersburg from the Barbarigo collection.

The New Hermitage was opened to the public on 5 February 1852.[17] In the same year the Egyptian Collection of the Hermitage Museum emerged, and was particularly enriched by items given by the Duke of Leuchtenberg, Nicholas I's son-in-law. Meanwhile in 1851–1860, the interiors of the Old Hermitage were redesigned by Andrei Stackensneider to accommodate the State Assembly, Cabinet of Ministers and state apartments. Andrei Stakenschneider created the Pavilion Hall in the Northern Pavilion of the Small Hermitage in 1851–1858.[9]

Until the 1920s, the museum's entrance was under the portico supported by five-metre high atlantes of grey Serdobol granite from Finland in the middle of the southern facade of the New Hermitage building.

In 1861, the Hermitage purchased from the Papal government part of the Giampietro Campana collection, which consisted mostly classical antiquities. These included over 500 vases, 200 bronzes and a number of marble statues. The Hermitage acquired Madonna Litta, which was then attributed to Leonardo, in 1865, and Raphael's Connestabile Madonna in 1870. In 1884 in Paris, Alexander III of Russia acquired the collection of Alexander Basilewski, featuring European medieval and Renaissance artifacts. In 1885, the Arsenal collection of arms and armour, founded by Alexander I of Russia, was transferred from the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo to the Hermitage. In 1914, Leonardo's Benois Madonna was added to the collection.

After the October Revolution[edit]
Immediately after the Revolution of 1917 the Imperial Hermitage and Winter Palace, former Imperial residence, were proclaimed state museums and eventually merged.

The range of the Hermitage's exhibits was further expanded when private art collections from several palaces of the Russian Tsars and numerous private mansions were nationalized and redistributed among major Soviet state museums. Particularly notable was the influx of old masters from the Catherine Palace, the Alexander Palace, the Stroganov Palace and the Yusupov Palace as well as from other palaces of Saint Petersburg and suburbs.

In 1922, an important collection of 19th-century European paintings was transferred to the Hermitage from the Academy of Arts. In turn, in 1927 about 500 important paintings were transferred to the Central Museum of old Western art in Moscow at the insistence of the Soviet authorities. In the early 1930s, 70 more paintings were sent there. After 1932, a number of less significant works of art were transferred to new museums all over the Soviet Union.

In 1928, the Soviet government ordered the Hermitage to compile a list of valuable works of art for export. In 1930–1934, over two thousand works of art from the Hermitage collection were clandestinely sold at auctions abroad or directly to foreign officials and businesspeople. The sold items included Raphael's Alba Madonna, Titian's Venus with a Mirror, Botticelli's Adoration of the Magi of 1475, and Jan van Eyck's Annunciation, among other world known masterpieces by Rembrandt, Van Dyck, and others. In 1931, after a series of negotiations, Andrew W. Mellon acquired 21 works of art from the Hermitage and later donated to form a nucleus of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (see also Soviet sale of Hermitage paintings).

A room in the Winter Palace
With the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, before the Siege of Leningrad started, two trains with a considerable part of the collections were evacuated to Sverdlovsk. Two bombs and a number of shells hit the museum buildings during the siege. The museum opened an exhibition in November 1944. In October 1945 the evacuated collections were brought back, and in November 1945 the museum reopened.

In 1948, 316 works of Impressionist, post-Impressionist, and modern art from the collection of the Museum of New Western Art in Moscow, originating mostly from the nationalized collections of Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov and disestablished before the war, were transferred to the Hermitage, including works by Matisse and Picasso. Beginning in 1967, a number of works by Matisse were donated to the museum by his muse Lydia Delectorskaya.

In 1981, the restored Menshikov Palace became a new branch of the Hermitage museum, displaying Russian culture of the early 18th century.

On 15 June 1985, a man later judged insane attacked Rembrandt's painting Danaë, displayed in the museum. He threw sulfuric acid on the canvas and cut it twice with his knife. The restoration of the painting had been accomplished by Hermitage experts by 1997, and Danaë is now on display behind armoured glass.

The Hermitage since 1991[edit]
In 1991, it became known that some paintings looted by the Red Army in Germany in 1945 were held in the Hermitage. Only in October 1994 the Hermitage officially announced that it had secretly been holding a major trove of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings from German private collections. The exhibition "Hidden Treasures Revealed", where 74 of the paintings were displayed for the first time, was opened on 30 March 1995, in the Nicholas Hall of the Winter Palace and lasted a year. Of the paintings, all but one originated from private rather than state German collections, including 56 paintings from the Otto Krebs collection, as well as the collection of Bernhard Koehler and paintings previously belonging to Otto Gerstenberg and his daughter Margarete Scharf, including world-famous Place de la Concorde by Degas, In the Garden by Renoir, White House at Night by Van Gogh, and some other collections.[18][19][20] Some of the paintings are now on permanent display in several small rooms in the northeastern corner of the Winter Palace on the first floor.[21][22]

In 1993, the Russian government gave eastern wing of the nearby General Staff Building across the Palace Square to the Hermitage and the new exhibition rooms in 1999. Since 2003, the Great Courtyard of the Winter Palace has been open to the public providing another entrance to the museum. Also in 2003, the Museum of Porcelain opened as a part of the Hermitage on the basis of the Imperial Porcelain Factory.

In December 2004, the museum discovered another looted work of art: Venus disarming Mars by Rubens was once in the collection of the Rheinsberg Palace in Berlin, and was apparently looted by Soviet troops from the Königsberg Castle in East Prussia in 1945. At the time, Mikhail Piotrovsky said the painting would be cleaned and displayed.[23]

The museum announced in July 2006, that 221 minor items, including jewelry, Orthodox icons, silverware and richly enameled objects, had been stolen. The value of the stolen items was estimated to be approximately $543,000 but by the end of 2006 several of the stolen items were recovered.

Thomas Jones (26 September 1742 – 29 April 1803) was a Welsh landscape painter. He was a pupil of Richard Wilson and was best known in his lifetime as a painter of Welsh and Italian landscapes in the style of his master. However, Jones's reputation grew in the 20th century when more unconventional works by him, ones not been intended for public consumption, came to light. Most notable among these is a series of views of Naples which he painted from 1782 to 1783. By breaking with the conventions of classical landscape painting in favour of direct observation, they look forward to the work of Camille Corot and the Barbizon School in the 19th century.[1] His autobiography, Memoirs of Thomas Jones of Penkerrig, went unpublished until 1951 but is now recognised as an important source of information on the 18th-century art world.[2]
Skilled immigrants
England is exceptionally late, among the wealthier regions of western Europe, in developing a native school of artists of sufficient distinction for their names to survive. The exquisite Wilton Diptych, dating from the 1390s, may have been painted in England (its origin is uncertain), but it has no national characteristics (being classed in the International Style) and it is anonymous. From the period when the great Renaissance masters are at work in Italy, the Netherlands or Germany, there is no English artist whose name survives. When English kings and nobles want their portrait painted, they look to continental Europe for someone with the necessary skills.
By far the most distinguished painter to fulfil this function is Hans Holbein, who spends thirteen years in England between 1526 and 1543. Holbein provides the images by which we know members of the Tudor court, and in particular Henry VIII himself. He also profoundly influences John Bettes, the first English portrait painter whose name has come down to us. Bettes' name survives by a single lucky accident. A painting known simply as A Man in a Black Cap, now in Tate Britain, bears the inscription faict par Johan Bettes Anglois (made by John Bettes Englishman). It is significant that his English origin is considered worthy of mention.
Bettes' portrait, dating from 1545 (two years before the death of Henry VIII), is very closely in the forthright Holbein style. But in the subsequent Tudor reigns a different kind of portraiture is more in demand.
English aristocrats now like to be depicted in sumptuous clothes and jewellery, often half- or full-length (thus showing more of a spectacular costume) and frequently with pale faces and distant, reserved expressions. One of the first exponents of this style is Hans Eworth, who comes to England from Antwerp in about 1545 and remains until his death in 1573.
Later in the century a second John Bettes, son of the first, also paints in the new style. But the most fashionable painter now is Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, who arrives as a child in 1568 with his Protestant family, fleeing from religious persecution in Bruges. His painting of Elizabeth I, painted probably in 1592 and now in the National Portrait Gallery, is an outstanding example of this ornate school of portraiture.
Another splendid example, dating from some twenty years earlier, is an oil painting of the queen by Nicholas Hilliard (now in Tate Britain). With Hilliard the story of British painting reaches its first native-born artist of international reputation, but this almost life-size portrait is entirely unchacteristic of his work - in terms of size rather than style.
Holbein, while working in and around the English court in the 1530s, had developed a new interest. He tried his hand at painting miniatures, tiny images on vellum or ivory of a kind which were being produced at the time by Flemish artists illuminating manuscripts for Henry VIII's library. In doing so he unwittingly encourages the emergence later in the century of the first identiable school of English art, with Hilliard as its founder.
Hilliard and Oliver: 16th - 17th century
The first important English painter, Nicholas Hilliard, is born in 1547, four years after Holbein's death in London. When he writes his Treatise Concerning the Arte of Limning, late in life, he says that his model in painting miniatures was always Holbein.
From the 1570s Hilliard is a prolific painter of the queen, of the nobility and of anyone else willing to commission him. More than 200 of his exquisite little portraits survive (as opposed to only a dozen by Holbein). They are the first English view of the English. In addition to the usual tiny head-and-shoulder portraits (in precious settings, often worn as a jewel), Hilliard pioneers a new tradition - that of the full-length miniature. One of Hilliard's earliest full-length miniatures is the Young Man among Roses of about 1587. It has the dreamy quality characteristic of these larger miniatures, both by Hilliard himself and by his pupil Isaac Oliver (son of a Huguenot goldsmith, who brings his family to London in 1568) . The same mood pervades Oliver's miniature of the 1590s, now bewitchingly entitled Unknown Melancholy Young Man.
Isaac Oliver dies in 1617 and is followed as painter to the English court by his son Peter. During Peter's career a foreign portrait painter arrives who easily outshines all English competition. But this foreigner makes such an enormous contribution, and has such influence on the English portrait tradition, that he must be considered as part of British art. He is Anthony van Dyck.
Van Dyck: 1618-1641
Van Dyck works in Rubens' studio in Antwerp between 1618 and 1620 and then spends most of the 1620s in Italy. In Genoa he makes an extremely successful career as a portrait painter, providing elegant and darkly dramatic full-length portraits of the city's aristocracy.
It is this same elegance, in a slightly gentler vein and with a lighter palette, which later makes van Dyck the favourite portrait painter in English court circles. He moves to London in 1632 and is immediately encouraged by Charles I, a most enthusiastic and knowledgeable collector of paintings. Within weeks of Van Dyck's arrival the king and queen are sitting for him. That same summer he is knighted. There are to be many more such portraits of the royal pair. The charming but weak face of Charles I, with the delicately trimmed beard, and the fragile beauty of Henrietta Maria are the most familiar images of British monarchs, in the entire long span between the queens Elizabeth and Victoria, entirely thanks to the skill of van Dyck.
Other members of the aristocracy are as eager to use his services. They glow in his canvases, handsome and arrogant Cavaliers in fine fabrics (John and Bernard Stuart in London's National Gallery are a perfect example). Nemesis awaits them when civil war breaks out in 1642. But the painter who gives them immortality has died in the previous year.
Unexpectedly, there is a talented English portraitist on hand to record the Cavaliers during the difficult years (1642-6) when the king establishes his court in exile at Oxford. Relatively little is known about Dobson until he succeeds Van Dyck in 1641 as chief painter to the court, and he dies in his mid-thirties in 1646. But in his four years at Oxford he produces some fifty portraits, closer in style to Titian and the Venetian school than to the refined elegance of Van Dyck.
Most notable of all among Dobson's works is the strongly characterized portrait of the Cavalier collector and connoisseur of art, Endymion Porter (now in Tate Britain).
Foreign sculptors: 17th - 18th century
There is a rich tradition of tomb sculpture in British cathedrals and parish churches, from the middle ages through to the 18th century, and most of these effigies are carved by local artists. But once fashionable sculptors become part of the scene, in the late 17th century, the story is the same as with painting. Almost without exception they come from the northern regions of continental Europe.
Even the most famous and the most English-seeming of them is born and trained in Holland. Grinling Gibbons, son of an English father, comes to London in his late teens and rapidly establishes a reputation for his still lives of fruit, foliage, dead birds and musical instruments, carved with astonishing realism in limewood. Gibbons' older contemporary, the Danish sculptor Cauis Gabriel Cibber, has already been in London for a few years when Gibbons arrives in about 1667. Cibber works in stone and on a more monumental scale. Indeed his first important commission is a scene for the pedestal of Wren's Monument to the Great Fire. His panel in relief (1673-5) shows Charles II, in Roman costume, offering comfort and protection to the inhabitants of the desolated city.
Antwerp is the home town of the next two distinguished continental sculptors to make their careers in England. They arrive in the early 18th century, by which time the peak of sculptural success is to carve lavish baroque monuments to famous Britons in Westminster Abbey. John Michael Rysbrack, who arrives in about 1720, succeeds in this field with his tribute of 1731 to Isaac Newton, mourned by two plump cherubs as he reclines at ease in a Roman toga, resting an elbow on four of his great folio volumes.
Peter Scheemakers moves from Antwerp to London at the same period as Rysbrack. He shows his paces in Westminster Abbey with a monument to another British worthy, carving in 1740 a full-length standing version of Shakespeare. The bard leans an elbow on a pile of three folio volumes and points languidly to an unfurling manuscript version of a famous speech from The Tempest. Some ten or fifteen years after the arrival of Rysbrack and Scheemakers, a French sculptor moves to London and soon outshines his Flemish predecessors. Born in Lyons, he is Louis François Roubiliac (also spelt Roubillac). More informal in style than the older pair, Roubiliac has an immediate and early success with a delightfully natural statue of Handel commissioned in 1735 for Vauxhall Gardens.
But he prevails also in the less frivolous surroundings of Westminster Abbey, where he provides no fewer than seven major monunents. In the most famous of them a shrouded figure of Death emerges from a tomb to aim his lance at Elizabeth Nightingale. British art comes of age: 18th century
In the 18th century native British artists at last make their mark. The first to do so is William Hogarth, but he is quirky and untypical, standing outside any school.
Portrait painting is the more characteristic theme of British art, in England and also in Scotland. A Scot, Allan Ramsay, is the first full-scale portraitist of great distinction but he is soon followed by others both north and south of the border. Meanwhile another very British theme develops, from the second half of the century, in the tradition of landscape watercolours.
Hogarth and the English scene: 1728-1764 The first English painter on a grand scale is also the most English of painters. Hogarth observes London life with the keenest of eyes, and makes his main contribution by presenting the bustling scene in vivid narrative paintings.
His first great success is a picture in 1728 of the stage of the Lincoln's Inn Fields theatre during a performance of John Gay's Beggar's Opera, the smash hit of the day (over the next three years he paints several versions of the same picture). In 1731 Hogarth completes the six paintings which make up A Harlot's Progress, the first of his very successful narrative sequences in which a contemporary moral tale is told as if in a series of satirical scenes on a stage.
Hogarth engraves a version of the Harlot's Progress himself (his original trade is engraving) and publishes the six plates with great success in 1732. In this combination of narrative satirical paintings, followed by the publication of a set of engravings, Hogarth finds his natural medium. Subsequent series are A Rake's Progress (1735), Marriage à la Mode (1742-4) and The Election (1754).
From the 1730s Hogarth also paints portraits. They tend to have a delightfully rough informality (such as the infants of the Grey family in 1740, cheerfully tormenting a puppy) or a sturdy masculinity (Captain Coram of the same year). But by this time a painter of more elegant portraits, Allan Ramsay, has set up shop in London.
British portraits: 1739-1830 Allan Ramsay, born in Edinburgh in 1713, studies in Rome and Naples during the 1730s before opening a studio in London in 1739 (together with another in Edinburgh). He brings to British portraiture a delicacy previously lacking, as seen to brilliant effect in his 1759 portrait of his wife (now in the National Gallery of Scotland).
By the 1750s Ramsay has a younger rival, of considerable skill and soaring ambition, with whom he finds it hard to compete. Joshua Reynolds, who establishes himself in London in 1753 after two years in Italy, has a high notion of the dignity of art and the artist. He is the natural first president of the Royal Academy, when it is founded in 1768, and he endows his sitters with an equivalent sense of importance. Reynolds often paints his subjects full length, in splendid poses and in close proximity to a classical column or urn. These are the sort of people who go on the Grand Tour. Their easy self-confidence in Reynolds's canvases revives the great tradition of the English portraits of van Dyck.

If anything is missing in these powerful images by Reynolds, it is perhaps the fleeting quality of fashion - a quality abundantly supplied by his slightly younger rival Thomas Gainsborough. When Gainsborough catches William and Elizabeth Hallett on their Morning Walk (in London's National Gallery), the couple may not have the air of lasting importance which Reynolds would give them; but on this particular morning there is no one to match them. Gainsborough maintains a studio in fashionable Bath from 1759 to 1774, and then moves to London. The rich English gentry who pose in town for him and for Reynolds have country seats where they are intensely interested in horses. These splendid animals also deserve a good portrait. England has just the man in George Stubbs.

Stubbs's wonderfully calm and elegant images of sleek horses with their grooms, huntsmen or jockeys in neatly tailored landscapes, or of conversation pieces with the family sitting proud and upright in their carriages, are in their own way as significant a part of the portraiture of prosperous 18th-century England as the work of Reynolds and Gainsborough.
The generation after Reynolds, Gainsborough and Stubbs produces two artists who round off in dramatic style the great period of British portrait painting. Henry Raeburn stays almost exclusively north of the border in Scotland, usually depicting his sitters in dramatic lighting against dark sketchy backgrounds. His striking image of The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch (early 1790s) is Scotland's most famous painting but is untypical.
Thomas Lawrence, the youngest of this group, is also the most flamboyant and free in the brilliant facility of his brush strokes. As Holbein immortalizes Henry VIII, so Lawrence does the same for the prince regent, or George IV. He and his most famous subject die in the same year, 1830.
British watercolours: 18th - 19th century
In 1771 the topographical artist Paul Sandby sets off with a wealthy patron for a tour of Wales. Sandby's job is to sketch the magnificent scenery, now coming into fashion with the beginning of the Romantic movement. This new interest will be popularized a decade later by the Rev. William Gilpin, an indefatigable pilgrim in pursuit of the picturesque who publishes accounts of his own sketching tours, beginning with Observations on the River Wye, relative chiefly to Picturesque Beauty (1782).

Watercolour is the natural medium for sketches of this kind. The passion for the picturesque therefore lies behind the development of the most distinctively British strand in art history - that of the landscape watercolour. The use of watercolour as the occasional medium for a rapid sketch goes back as far as Dürer, and many artists in the 17th century use monochrome wash drawings as studies for paintings. The difference in Britain in the 18th century is that specialists emerge who paint watercolours for their patrons (and later for a wider market) and in many cases restrict their work to this one medium.
This development coincides with a fortunate new discovery in printmaking, that of the aquatint - which for the first time can provide in printed form something very close to the tones of a wash drawing. Again Paul Sandby is a pioneer. His Welsh trips result in the publication, in 1776-7, of thirty-six Views in Aquatinta taken on the Spot in Wales. Soon British watercolour artists are travelling abroad to bring back views from regions such as the Alps which have scenery even more picturesque than Wales can provide. In a nice paradox, classical ruins in Italy are also now found to be romantic.
From the start very individual styles emerge among these artists. Many attempt a neat topographical precision, particularly in subjects such as ruins. Others go for much bolder effects. John Robert Cozens, touring in Switzerland and Italy in 1776, brings back wonderfully misty and evocative images. Francis Towne, in the same regions in 1781, turns landscape into simple blocks of wash so bold that the effect is almost abstract.
Other leading watercolourists who develop their own personal vision of the British landscape include Thomas Girtin, John Sell Cotman, David Cox and Peter de Wint. Vision tips over into visionary in the richly intimate views painted by Samuel Palmer at Shoreham in Kent (under the influence of William Blake, a master of watercolour in his own visionary scenes).

One figure above all personifies the development of the watercolour in England. Turner in his twenties paints brilliantly in the detailed topographical style. Later in his life he produces bright shimmering washes as bold as his large canvases of the same period. Constable says that they seem to be painted 'with tinted steam, so evanescent and so airy'.

Thomas Jones was born in Trefonnen in Cefnllys, Radnorshire, the second of sixteen children to the landowner Thomas Jones of Trefonnen and his wife, Hannah. His formative years were spent on his father's estate at Pencerrig near Builth Wells; thus he is often referred to as Thomas Jones of Pencerrig to differentiate him from others of the same name. He was educated at Christ College, Brecon, and later at a school kept by Jenkin Jenkins at Llanfyllin in Montgomeryshire, before going to Oxford in 1759 to study at Jesus College. His university education was funded by a maternal uncle who, contrary to Jones's own wishes, hoped for him to enter the church. Jones dropped out of Oxford after this uncle’s death in 1761 and began to pursue his preferred career as an artist.

Jones moved to London and enrolled at William Shipley's drawing school in November 1761. Despite attending the life class at St Martin's Lane Academy, he remained unconfident of his ability to draw figures convincingly, and in 1763 he persuaded the leading landscape painter of the day (and fellow Welshman) Richard Wilson to take him on as a pupil. A high-spirited youth, Jones recorded in his journal that he and two rowdy fellow pupils were once rebuked by their master with the words, "Gentlemen, this is not the way to rival Claude".[3]

In 1765 Jones began to exhibit at the Society of Artists (the forerunner of the Royal Academy). From 1769 onwards his landscapes began to adopt the "grand manner", becoming settings for scenes in history, literature or mythology. His frequent collaborator on these works was John Hamilton Mortimer, who painted the figures. One of his best-known works from this period is The Bard (Cardiff), based on the poem by Thomas Gray. The 1770s were a successful period for Jones; he was elected a fellow of the Society of Artists in 1771 and served as the society’s director in 1773–4. This period also saw the beginning of Jones’s unconventional habit of producing small landscape sketches in oils on paper for his own amusement.

Jones embarked on an eagerly anticipated trip to Italy in September 1776. The works produced there departed significantly from the example of his master, particularly in his watercolour paintings, where he developed a distinctive palette of varying shades of blue. Jacob More, John Robert Cozens and Thomas Banks were among the fellow expatriate artists with whom Jones was friendly. His first commission in Italy was a landscape entitled Lake Albano – Sunset for the Earl-Bishop of Derry, who became Jones's most important patron.

Jones made his first visit to Naples in September 1778, staying there for five months. He returned to Rome for a time, living in a house near the Spanish Steps built by Salvator Rosa.[4] He took on a Danish widow called Maria Moncke as his "Maid Servant" in April 1779, eloping with her to Naples a year later. Then the largest city in Italy, Naples promised more opportunities for patronage than had Rome, and Jones sought the patronage of the British Ambassador Sir William Hamilton in particular.[4] Maria gave birth to two daughters in Naples, Anna Maria (in 1780) and Elizabetha (in 1781).

Return from Italy and retirement
Upon hearing of his father's death in 1782, Jones, who after six years in Italy was becoming restless and homesick, returned to Britain. He set off for London with Maria, Anna and Elizabetha on a Swedish brig in August 1783. He arrived the following November only to find many of his possessions destroyed by damp, including all his painted studies from nature. In London Jones attempted to revive his career as a painter, but he had less impetus to do so as an annual income of £300 was left to him by his father. Although he exhibited ten works at the Royal Academy from 1784 to 1798, by 1785 he felt that his artistic career was over.[3]

In his later years Jones felt increasingly himself drawn back to Wales, especially his beloved Pencerrig. He inherited the estate in 1787, on the death of his brother Major John Jones without issue. With his new-found financial security [3] Thomas Jones finally married Maria Moncke on 16 September 1789 (though his devout mother also influenced the decision).[2] The wedding was held at St Pancras Church in London. Jones took an active interest in his estate, using his sketchbook to record new agricultural developments. In 1791, he even wrote a poem entitled "Petraeia" about his love for Pencerrig. (Cerrig, meaning 'stone' in Welsh, translates into Greek as petra.) 1791 was also the year when he became High Sheriff of Radnorshire.

Thomas Jones died in 1803; the cause of death was angina pectoris. He was buried at the family chapel at Caebach, Llandrindod Wells.

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