Painting in England in the 17—19th centuries is represented by a number of great artists and during that period it was greatly influenced by foreign painters. The Flemish painter Van Dyck was really the father of English portrait school. The' English king personally invited Van Dyck to London and during his first year in England the painter spent most of his time painting the King and the Queen. Van Dyck created the impressive, formal type of portrait and such masters as Reynolds, Gainsborough, Lawrence and Raeburn owed
much to their study of his works. He created a genre of aristocratic and intellectual portrait which influenced much the development of English painting.Van Dyck created the type of portrait which helped him to convey the sitter's individual psychology.
THE DISCRIPTION OF THE “FAMILY PORTRAIT”
The sitter's individuality is vividly expressed in this portrait. One can easily follow the gentle and even character of the young woman and the outstanding searching, restless personality of her husband. The artist managed to create the impression of spiritual relationship In spite of the difference of characters. The colour scheme of this canvas is very beautiful. The prevailing tones are red, golden and brown.
During the 18th century the truly national school of painting was created, William Hogarth was the first great English painter who raised British pictorial art to a high level of importance. Hogarth (1697—1764} wasn't a success as a portrait painter. But his pictures of social life which he called "modern moral subjects" brought him fame and position. Among his favourite works are six pictures united under the title "Marriage a la Mode." This famous series is really a novel in paint telling the story of the marriage of an earl's son and city merchant's daughter, a marriage made for reasons of vanity and money. Despite the satirical, often amusing detailes, the painter's purpose is serious. He expects his pictures to be read and they are perhaps full of allusions. At the same time Hogarth remained an artist and passages especially in "Shortly after the Marriage" show how attractively he could paint. The Free handing of the "Shrimp Girl" Is combined with cockney vivacity. The girl is brushed onto the canvas in a vigorous impressive style. As a painter Hogarth was harmonious in his colouring, very capable and direct in his theme and composition. He painted many pictures. He is well known as a humorist and satirist on canvas.
In the second half of the 18th century narrative and satirical themes lost their leading role in the English art. The ruling classes tried to show in art a confirmation and glorification of their social position. The most popular form of painting became ceremonial portraits of representatives of the ruling class. Sir Joshua Reynolds was the most outstanding portraitist of the period. In December 1768 the Royal Academy was founded and Reynolds became its first president. He created a whole gallery of portraits of the most famous of his contemporaries. He usually painted his characters in heroic style and showed them as the best people of the nation. As a result his paintings are not free of a certain idealization of the characters. Reynolds was greatly influenced as a painter
by the old masters. This influence can be seen in his "Cupid Untying the Zone of Venus". The picture is close to Titian's style in the use of colour, but it is typical of the 18th century English school of its approach to subject-matter. He often included real personages in his mythological works (Venus — Lady Hamilton). Reynolds did. not want British art to be provincial and isolated. It was he who insisted that artists should be brought up in line with European art and that they should develop the Grand style of painting. As a president of the Royal Academy Reynolds delivered lectures. These lectures were regarded as the most sensible exposition of the Academic view that by well-directed work it was possible to learn the rules of art and use discoveries and ideas of the old masters to create a new style of one's own. He recommended that a would-be painter should put his faith in old masters from whom he should be ready to borrow. He advised that in portraits the grace should consist more in taking the general air than in exact rendering of every feature. He suggested that the proportions of a sitter's figure should be altered in accordance with a fixed ideal.
Reynold's contemporary George Romney reflects Reynold's style to some degree. The portrait of Mrs Greer shows a very attractive young woman whose beauty is emphasized by a contrast between her white face and dark eyes and the severe colouring of her toliette. He did not try to understand the psychology of the sitters. He created only general impression.