Category Archives: Masterpiece

Joshua Reynolds – English Portrait Painter

www.segmation.comJoshua Reynolds was a man with many titles: artist, painter, educator, president, and Sir. In the 18th century, the man with an extensive career fulfilled all these roles.

In the summer of 1723, Joshua Reynolds was born into a large family in Plympton, England. His parents had 10 children in all. Their heritage could be defined as intellectual; Joshua’s great-grandfather was a mathematician and his father, a school teacher.

Samuel Reynolds provided his son with a broad education. It included reading, writing, history, arithmetic, geography, and drawing. On his own efforts, Joshua gave attention to medicine, metaphysics, and astrology. More than any other activity, however, his greatest interest was painting.

It is believed that Reynolds began painting at a young age. His first portrait was signed the year he turned 12. Around 17, he apprenticed with the artist Thomas Hudson. This is where he began to acquire skill as a portrait painter.www.segmation.com

Joshua Reynolds started his independent career in 1743. In the beginning, his portraits included paintings of family members and himself. While much of his work showed signs of Hudson’s influence, his self-portraits revealed a Rembrandt quality.

In 1747, momentum built around Reynolds career. He set up a studio on St. Martin’s Lane in London. Most of his clients lived near the street that would become known for its art venues. During this time, his talent and connections bolstered his career; he was named “one of the nation’s most important artists” by The Universal Magazine.

On a tour through the Mediterranean and Rome in 1949, Reynolds was impressed by historical artwork. In fact, he was reported saying how ignorant he felt when viewing some of the world’s greatest art pieces. He copied many of these paintings and studied them often. His tour continued onto Florence where he spent a significant amount of time with Italian painter, Francesco Zuccarelli. He continued his travels, visiting places like Milan and Paris, before returning to London in late 1752.www.segmation.com

When Reynolds was settled into his St. Martin’s Lane studio again, he was said to produce more than 100 portraits each year. The value of his artwork increased as he was asked to paint portraits of elite society.

In 1768, his career as a portrait painted merged with the world of art education. Joshua Reynolds was elected the first president of the Royal Academy. There he gave many lectures that would eventually become a great book of art criticism known as, The Discourses on Art. One year after he took the role as president, Reynolds was knighted by George III. Later, in 1784, Reynolds became the portrait painter to George III.

Following these accolades, Reynolds health began deteriorating. He was hard of hearing and would become so deaf he required the assistance of an antique hearing-aid, the ear-trumpet. By 1789 his sight was waning too. Still, Reynolds was known for being a good listener, great friend, and generous man. He was never thought of as “handsome.” Reynolds was short in stature with a round, flushed face. He never married but had a lot of friends and was admired by many.
Eventually, liver disease took the life of a great artist, educator, countryman, and friend. Joshua Reynolds died in London in 1792.

Today, the legacy of Joshua Reynolds lives on. While his work is revered, his practices and teachings are indispensable to the world of art. Joshua Reynolds was a man of much talent but beyond all else he was a person with many strengths. Few other artists deserve his titles.

Sources:
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/500800/Sir-Joshua-Reynolds

http://www.nndb.com/people/898/000084646/

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Joshua Reynolds English Portrait Painter

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Thomas Moran – American Landscape Painter

www.segmation.comThe interesting life of Thomas Moran started with humble beginnings and ended in the Whitehouse.  Moran was no politician though; he was an artist who raised the bar for American painters and illustrators. More so, Thomas Moran was responsible for making America what is it today.

Like many history makers, Thomas Moran immigrated to America from England in the 19th century. He was born in Bolton, Lancashire in 1837. Early in his life, his entire family moved to a suburb of Philadelphia.

The four Moran brothers, (two being older than Thomas) were all artists, either by profession or hobby. Thomas’s artistic nature and innate talent began to show at the age of 16 when he apprenticed for a wood engraving firm. In this role he was diligent to develop abilities in illustration and watercolor. By 1860, Thomas sought to infuse his personal art with fresh inspiration.

He traveled to the Great Lakes to paint their landscape. After returning to Philadelphia, he was able to sell lithographs of his work. This encouraged the growing artist to travel and further his skill in drawing and painting landscapes. Moran found himself in London next, studying the works of J. M. W. Turner. It is noted that Moran appreciated the esteemed artist’s choices of landscape and color usage.www.segmation.com

Between his time in London and his next adventure, Thomas Moran’s landscape art appeared in numerous publications. With some notoriety and industry connections, Moran was asked to be one of the first artists to document The West with the United States Geological Survey. Throughout a forty day journey, Moran kept a diary of drawings reflecting the various landscapes he and the team encountered. As a result of his art, and the team’s work, Congress was persuaded to name Yellowstone a national park. In 1872, it was the first park of its kind.

This voyage created a good amount of recognition and wealth for the artist. Yellowstone inspired Moran’s infamous piece, a 7′ by 12′ oil painting appropriately titled, The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The United States government purchased this for $10,000 that year. This is the same amount paid for another large painting inspired by a different survey that took place two years later.

The Chasm of Colorado was the result of a survey that sent Moran and Army General, John Wesley Powell from Salt Lake City to, what would soon be known as Zion National Park. The results of this survey were numerous illustrations, publications, and growing notoriety of both the artist and America’s unseen west.

Throughout the course of his United States travels, Moran grew a strong affinity towards the Grand Canyon in Arizona. In fact, every year for the last 25 years of his life, he would visit this source of inspiration. Of the natural wonder, Moran wrote, “Of all places on earth the great canyon of Arizona is the most inspiring in its pictorial possibilities.”

At the age of 89, Thomas Moran passed away in Santa Barbara, where he lived out his senior years. His legacy, on the other hand, continued to live. The oil paintings bought for $10,000 by the government were later featured in the Smithsonian. In addition, Mount Moran in Grand Teton National Park was named after the artist. There are many other landmarks and museums that have collections or pieces of his 1,500 oils paintings, 800 watercolors, and countless illustrations.

Thomas Moran’s portrayal of the magnificent West united the states of America. With that honor comes recognition that transcends time. On a wall in the Oval Office hangs Moran’s The Three Tetons. His place in American history has been solidified; his legacy lives on a Whitehouse wall.

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