Gainsborough, Reynolds, Turner… These artists made the golden age of the British painting in the 18th century. The Musée du Luxembourg dedicates them and exhibition from September 11, 2019 to January 15, 2020.
In the beginning of his reign, George III launches the Royal Academy of Arts with only one mission: promoting arts in Great Britain through education and exhibitions. It’s 1768!
Supported by the king, British painters blossom in a variety of styles. Family, nature, daily life, country life and the presence of Great Britain in India are recurring themes delighting people back in the days.
And since British painters offered a collection of styles, it’s been seen in the whole world as a sign of an art golden age, a kind of rebirth in this country that was freeing itself from the rules and the conventions!
In this time, portrait masters were Reynolds and Gainsborough. Even though they offered portraits among others, they had a very different style: Gainsborough was a bold and spontaneous painter while Reynolds tried his hardest to respect the classic codes in historic paintings.
And obviously, king George III chose one of them to be the first President of the Royal Academy. Joshua Reynolds won the title and defines historic painting as the most important kind of British painting and according to him, it’s the only genre allowing an artist to be fully fulfilled!
This condition to join the Royal Academy explains why so many artists will launch themselves into this art in this time period while historic painting is not really supported by the time’s patrons.
Moreover, the Musée du Luxembourg presents the most beautiful English works from the second half of the 18th century, as well as how the narrative figuration develops after this golden age with works by Henri Fuseli, John Martin and P.J. De Loutherbourg and J.M.W. Turner who launched themselves into representing the imaginary.
We don’t know yet what works will be displayed but we can already feel it will be a beautiful selection coming from the Tate collections in London!
Photo credit: Sir Joshua Reynolds, The Hon. Miss Monckton (detail), 1777-1778, 240 x 147,3 cm, ©Tate London 2018
From 11 September 2019 to 15 January 2020
Musée du Luxembourg
19, rue de Vaugirard
75006 Paris 6
RER B station "Luxembourg", ligne 4 station "Saint-Sulpice", ligne 12 station "Rennes"