Art is an all embracing notion (music, painting, theatre, literature and so on) . Art had the most important role in the development of the mankind. The first were found on walls of ancient caves. So we can guess that painting was the first way of art. Painting is the most understandable way of art, because it gives us the most full and vivid impression.
Seneka once said: “All art is bur imitation of nature” . I don’t agree with him. I think that art has many functions and it’s hard to overestimate the role of art in one’s life. Art has great influence on our souls, feelings, forms our moral values. Art forms our outlook and enriches our inner world. Art influences greatly the development and of evolution of consciousness of a person and of the mankind. Art makes us think of the sense of life, how people must live, what is ideal of beauty, what is love, — the eternal questions. Art helps us to understand people who lived hundred years ago and to learn the history of the mankind. Art creates our notion about beauty and harmony. Art helps people to understand outside world and each other. Art develops our good qualities. Art has a great educational significance. Art brings people up — makes them more humane and kind. The language of art is universal. Everybody, in spite of age, nationality, occupation understands what is said by the painter. Art gives people a possibility to express ourselves and to become famous. But I don’t think that every painter becomes famous. Only talented, genius people like da Vinci, Raphael and others can create great, eternal art, real masterpieces. Art is great only if it has links with people’s lives, interests, ideals. If it hasn’t, it won’t be understood and acknowledged. Real art appeals to the heart and mind of a man, to his feelings and it proclaims life.
As to the trends of art, I prefer old art. Painting of old masters is one of the greatest treasures mankind has collected in the history of its civilisation. The pictures of old painters are in all big museum of the world (for example, the Hermitage, the Tretiakovskaya gallery and others) . Old painting reflects the collective experience of human spiritual life of many centuries, because, as I have already said, painting is the first way of art. As to country schools of painting, I prefer English painting school. My favourite English painter is George Romney.
George Romney was born in 1734. He was a son of a cabinetmaker. He was apprenticed to Christopher Steele, a travelling portraitist between 1775 and 1757; at that time Romney established himself in Kendal, Westmoreland, where he had a fairly prosperous trade in small portraits. In 1762 he left for London; here he broadened his style considerably. In 1763 and 1765 he won awards at the Society of Arts. During the next few years he became more popular as a portrait painter. In 1764 Romney paid a short visit to Paris. In 1773 he left England and spent two years in Italy, mainly Rome, studying antique sculpture and the work of Raphael. These studies had a major influence on the development of his style.
On his return to England in 1775 Romney rapidly became and remained for many years one of the most fashionable portrait painters in London; his patrons ranged from the Prince of Wales and members of the aristocracy to the literary and dramatic figures of the day. Second only to Sir Joshua Reynolds in popularity, Romney was, however, such a pathologically timid character that he never ventured to present himself for the honours of the Royal Academy of Arts and hence acquired an unmerited reputation of a recluse. In 1782 he met his “divine lady” , Emma Hart, later Lady Hamilton, of whom he painted a great number of famous portraits in various character roles. Romney painted four pictures for John Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery between 1786 and 1791. These were among the very few subjects he finished, though he left thousands of rough sketches that are of great interest. Unlike his public work, these sketches link Romney with the imaginative world of William Blake. After 1796, ill health forced Romney to stop painting. The last years were spent in Kendal. George Romney died in 1801.
The most vivid impression on me has produced Romney’s picture “The portrait of duchess Elisabeth Derby” , which was finished in 1778. It is an oil painting, canvas.
The figure of a beautiful rich woman is placed on the landscape background. It is a full-length portrait. The woman is represented sitting. The figure is arranged in a vertical format. Colouring is subtle, soft, delicate and restful. Brushstrokes are not visible.
The women are dressed in luminous dress, through which one can see contours of her figure. The lady’s figure is lighted up evenly. The women have beautiful big dark eyes, tall forehead, rosy cheeks, straight nose and beautiful lips. The profession of the woman isn’t indicated, but she has graceful hands, so one can guess that she doesn’t work with her hands. We can judge that she is a representative of high-class family.
Every pleat of the woman’s dress, coiffure and other details are painted very precisely. As to my opinion the details are not emphasised purposely. Accuracy in details is the result of supreme mastery in technique of the painter. So the figure is a harmonious unity.
The landscape isn’t painted so exactly. There is a piece of blue-grey sky in the right corner of the picture, but on the horizon the clouds are condensing. The forest behind the lady isn’t green, it is obscure and gloomy. Predominant colour is brown. There is a sharp contrast between lighted up figure and dark landscape. The figure is close to the observer than to the landscape. So the figure doesn’t blend with the landscape.
The posture of the lady is very natural. Her eyes are gazed before and upper herself. She is deep in her thoughts.