Artists

John Constable
1776-1837
English painter

He was a master of landscape painting in the romantic style. His works, done directly from nature, influenced French painters of the Barbizon School and the impressionist movement.

Constable was born June 11, 1776, in East Bergholt, Suffolk. He worked in his father's flour mill before going to London in 1799 to study at the Royal Academy schools. He exhibited his first landscape paintings in 1802 and thereafter studied painting and English rural life on his own, developing a distinctly individual style. His paintings, executed entirely in the open air rather than in a studio, as was customary, were an innovation in English art.

He became a member of the Royal Academy in 1829.

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Thomas Gainsborough
1727-1788
English painter

Considered one of the great masters of portraiture and landscape painting. Gainsborough was born in Sudbury, Suffolk. He showed artistic ability at an early age, and when he was 15 years old he studied drawing and etching in London. In 1768 he was elected one of the original members of the Royal Academy of Arts. In 1774 he painted, by royal invitation, portraits of King George III and the queen consort, Charlotte Sophia. Gainsborough executed more than 500 paintings, of which more than 200 are portraits. The effect of poetic melancholy induced by faint lighting characterizes Gainsborough's paintings. Forest scenes, or rough and broken country, are the usual subjects of his landscapes, most notably Cornard Wood and The Watering Place, both in the National Gallery, London.

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Joseph Mallord William Turner
1775-1851
English painter.

The most original landscape artist of his day, he is one of England's greatest painters. His landscapes became increasingly Romantic, with the subject often transformed in scale and flooded with brilliant, hazy light. Many later works anticipate Impressionism, for example Rain, Steam and Speed 1844 (National Gallery, London).

Turner travelled extensively in France, Switzerland, Italy, and the Rhineland as well as in Britain, constantly recording the effects of sea, sky, mountain, and plain in watercolour. He continued to produce series of watercolour studies, which were issued as engravings, throughout his life
By the 1800s he had begun to paint landscapes in the `Grand Manner´, and having mastered a range of styles, Turner evolved one distinctively his own in which his highly individual use of colour and his increasingly free brushwork allow him to capture both the subtlest effects of light and atmosphere and also the most violent forces of nature.

Examples of his major works include Shipwreck 1805, Snowstorm: Hannibal Crossing the Alps 1812, and Destruction of Sodom 1805 (all Tate Gallery, London); Rain, Steam and Speed; and The Slave Ship 1839 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts).

Turner was born in London. His general education was limited, but early experience as a copyist in the house of the art collector Thomas Monro  enlarged his view of painting and drawing. In 1789 he entered the Royal Academy schools. He began as a topographical watercolourist, and first exhibited in oils 1796. He became professor of perspective at the Royal Academy from 1807 and deputy president 1845.

In his old age he lived as a recluse in Chelsea, London, under an assumed name. He died there, leaving to the nation more than 300 paintings, nearly 20,000 watercolours, and over 19,000 drawings.

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Josiah Wedgwood
1730 -1795
English potter

His works are among the finest examples of ceramic art. Wedgwood was born in Burslem, Staffordshire, into a family with a long tradition as potters. At the age of nine, after the death of his father, he worked in his family's pottery business. In 1759 he set up his own pottery works in Burslem. There he produced highly durable cream-coloured earthenware that so pleased Queen Charlotte Sophia, wife of George III of Great Britain, that in 1762 she appointed him royal supplier of dinnerware. From the public sale of what has become known as queensware, Wedgwood was able, in 1768, to build near Stoke-on-Trent a village, which he named Etruria, and a second factory equipped with tools and ovens of his own design. At first only ornamental pottery was made in Etruria, but by 1773 Wedgwood had concentrated all his production facilities there. Etruria Hall is now a museum to Wedgwood and is surrounded by commercial redevelopment following the National Garden Festival.

During his long career Wedgwood developed revolutionary ceramic materials, notably basalt and jasperware. Wedgwood's basalt—a hard, black, stonelike material known also as Egyptian ware or basaltes ware—was used for vases, candlesticks, and realistic busts of historical figures. Jasperware, his most successful innovation, was a durable unglazed porcelain most characteristically blue with fine white cameo figures inspired by the ancient Roman Portland Vase. Many of the finest designs in Jasperware were the neoclassical work of British artist John Flaxman.

Wedgwood was one of the first potters to market his wares not only to the European aristocracy, but also to middle-class society. The enormous popularity of his wares severely affected the competing porcelain and faience industries. Other innovations by Wedgwood include a device for measuring high oven temperatures, an improved green glaze, and efficient factory distribution methods. After Wedgwood's death in Etruria, his descendants carried on the business, which still produces many of his designs. Wedgwood was the grandfather of British naturalist Charles Darwin.

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