"Thomas Gainsborough": major works from the collections of Great Britain Automatic translate
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Главное здание ГМИИ им. А.С. Пушкина
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The Thomas Gainsborough exhibition will allow you to get acquainted with the work of an outstanding painter, one of the founders of the 18th century British art school, the beloved artist of King George III and the most striking and peculiar representative of the era, who turned the world of British art. The exhibition will feature about 100 works from 11 leading museums in the UK, as well as from the collections of the Pushkin Museum to them. A.S. Pushkin and the State Hermitage Museum. Among the unique exhibits from the UK are the ceremonial “Portrait of Mrs. Elizabeth Moody with her sons, Samuel and Thomas”, the last large-scale landscape of the master “Market Wagon”, as well as landscapes on glass, which are almost never presented at exhibitions abroad.
Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788) is rightfully considered one of the most important English artists of the 18th century. It was his portraits that shape our idea of British society of that time, embody the cultural ideals of the British aristocracy. Opening in the Pushkin Museum to them. A.S. Pushkin exhibition provides a unique opportunity to see the best works of the artist from the collections of Great Britain. In addition to such long-standing partners of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, such as the London National Gallery, the Tate Gallery or the Royal Academy of Arts, the project involved museums that for the first time collaborated with Russia. This is the Gainsborough House Museum in Sudbury, which owns an extensive collection of the master’s early works; The Museum of Bathburn in Bath, where the artist lived and worked for fifteen years; The London Dalich Art Gallery, featuring brilliant examples of Gainsborough’s portraiture.
The work of Thomas Gainsborough developed at a time when British culture was undergoing a revival that affected not only fine art, but also theater, music and literature. It was the Gainsborough era that finally formed the English school of painting. An important role in the formation of the artistic language of Thomas Gainsborough, in addition to teachers at the London Academy of St. Martin, which was led by the great William Hogarth, was played by leading representatives of the picturesque schools of continental Europe. Throughout his life, Gainsborough learned the lessons of the old masters, developing his own painting style, different from the ceremonial parade style generally accepted at that time, which was represented by his main opponent and rival, president and founder of the Royal Academy of Arts, Joshua Reynolds. The work of Thomas Gainsborough played a decisive role in the formation of the British school of painting.
Exhibition at the Pushkin Museum. A.S. Pushkin is devoted to the formation and development of the Gainsborough art style, which has undergone major changes due to the artist’s acquaintance with the art of European old masters.
The first section of the exhibition presents the artist’s early works, created shortly after the young master, trained in London, returned to his native Suffolk. Gainsborough’s most significant London mentor was the representative of the French Rococo Hubert-Francois Bourguignon, known under the pseudonym Gravlo. During this period, French masters were in demand in the UK. Under the influence of rocky pastoral compositions, Gainsborough began working in the genre of the so-called conversational portrait. Images of people against the backdrop of the landscape provided the master with a unique opportunity to combine portrait and landscape painting and inform the formal group portrait of the intonation of immediacy and intimacy.
In the same period, Gainsborough began to show interest in the works of Dutch landscape painters, who began to actively fill the London art market. In the early landscape works of the master, one can feel the influence of Dutch study albums and a thorough study of nature - a consequence of the artist’s endless walks around Sudbury.
The second part of the exhibition is devoted to chamber portraits of the master. Thomas Gainsborough successfully worked in different genres, but in the second half of the XVIII century only custom-made portraits could bring the British painter a solid reputation and a decent income. In this area, Gainsborough had to constantly compete with other artists, especially since British customers often turned to different portrait painters. In addition to the paintings of Thomas Gainsborough, the exposition of this section includes several works by British artists - contemporaries of the master.
Among the main features of the painting of Great Britain of the 18th century is the extraordinary flowering of a child’s portrait. Many artists paid tribute to this genre, from modest provincial masters to recognized academicians. And here Gainsborough is not like his contemporaries. The airy childhood images of the artist, who sought to emphasize the fragility inherent in this tender age, markedly differ from the cheerful pink-cheeked “angels” on the canvases of Joshua Reynolds and his followers.
If the early portraits of Gainsborough are characterized by life truthfulness and some laconicism inherent in the Hogarth style, then later the master created a whole gallery of male and female images, imbued with almost incorporeal lightness and subtle lyricism.
Masterpieces relating to the heyday of the works of Thomas Geisnborough, including portraits dedicated to musicians with whom the artist had friendly relations, are exhibited in the White Hall. Thanks to this friendship, the artist left a magnificent portrait gallery of the best representatives of the musical art of Great Britain in the Georgian era. Among them are Carl Friedrich Abel, composer and virtuoso of the playing the viola, members of the composer’s family Thomas Linley, Anna Ford, singer and performer of stringed instruments. Their portraits will also be displayed at the exhibition.
In the late period, Gainsborough’s works became more and more bold in composition, they are distinguished by the freedom and ease of the picturesque manner. During these years, the artist was attracted by the emotional landscapes of the Dutchman Jacob Reusdal, as well as the canvases of the great Flemings - Peter Paul Rubens and Antonis van Dyck. The influence of Rubens on the work of the British master can be traced over the last two decades of his life, while van Dyck was an example of a talented painter for him, the embodiment of the Italian concept of sprezzatura - seeming lightness, which is followed by painstaking work and high craftsmanship. The exhibition includes the works of old masters from Russian and foreign collections whose work had a significant impact on the development of the artistic style of Thomas Gainsborough.
A special place in the exposition is occupied by the composition “Descent from the Cross” - a copy from a large-scale canvas by Rubens, performed by Gainsborough based on an engraving by Lucas Vorsterman. Rubens’s painting is in Antwerp, which Gainsborough visited much later, in the summer of 1783. It is amazing that the British artist chose this particular composition of his idol - the depiction of religious scenes was not relevant for 18th-century British art, and Gainsborough himself never addressed such subjects. Obviously, for both painters this plot was important in its own way. Rubens made many sketches for the Descent from the Cross, showing how long he took to this work. One of these sketches belonging to the collection of the State Hermitage will be presented at the exhibition.
Finally, the last section of the exposition is dedicated to the graphic works of Thomas Gainsborough and other media, which were addressed by a master who had been fond of various art experiments all his life. For Gainsborough, drawing was the habit of a lifetime, so necessary for his artistic practice; he continuously opened up new possibilities for drawing. Starting with traditional sketches with a lead pencil, the master complicated the technique over the years, achieving a more “picturesque” effect. The artist’s desire for experiments also extended to his work in engraving techniques, as well as in glass painting. Using a specially designed box with a magnifying glass, Gainsborough demonstrated hand-painted glass plates. Until today, only ten such works have survived. All of them are stored in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), are rarely exhibited and practically never appear at exhibitions abroad. Exposition at the Pushkin Museum. A.S. Pushkin provides a unique opportunity to see two landscapes on glass.
The exhibition of works by Thomas Gainsborough continues the cycle of expositions representing British art. In the Pushkin Museum to them. A.S. Pushkin has already held projects dedicated to the works of William Turner (2008), William Blake (2010), Pre-Raphaelites (2013), Aubrey Beardsley (2014), as well as artists of the London School (2019).
The exhibition will be dedicated to the annual International Music Festival “December evenings of Svyatoslav Richter. Walking with Thomas Gainsborough ”, which will be held in the museum from December 1 to 23.
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