Cover image for British painting : the golden age from Hogarth to Turner
British painting : the golden age from Hogarth to Turner
Vaughan, William, 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Thames and Hudson, 1999.
Physical Description:
256 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 21 cm.
Format :


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ND466 .V38 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Hogarth himself brought modern life into painting and treated it with high moral seriousness disguised as satire. Ramsay, Reynolds, Gainsborough, and Lawrence revolutionized portraiture, introducing a new authority and sensibility. The unconventional genius of Blake gave form to a unique mystic vision, while Constable explored nature in a new manner, encouraging developments that were to lead to Impressionism. Finally, Turner took painting into a realm of sublime grandeur, expressing the age of Romanticism as vividly as Byron, Shelley, and Keats were doing in poetry. William Vaughan analyzes the class structure and political background that made British art so distinctive. Using up-to-date research and critical theory, he shows us the colorful world of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when British art was richer and more influential than at any time before or since.

Author Notes

William Vaughan is Professor of the History of Art at Birkbeck College, London. After studying at the Ruskin School of Art in Oxford and the Courtauld Institute, London, he became an Assistant Keeper at the Tate Gallery, London. In 1972 he was appointed as lecturer at University College, London, until he took up the professorship at Birkbeck. He is the author of numerous articles and books on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century painting, including Romanticism and Art (2nd edition, 1994). In 1998 he was chosen to deliver the Paul Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery, London, on the subject of British Painting. Professor Vaughan is married with two children.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Vaughan convincingly argues that the period from the early 18th- to the mid 19th-century--i.e., from Hogarth to Turner--was a period of unprecedented creativity in British art generally, and particularly so in painting. It was during this time that Britain shed its second-class citizenship in matters of art, bringing to the European scene redefinition of received genres and whole new avenues of artistic expression. Vaughan's method is not to treat his subject monographically, on a painter by painter basis, but topically. Thus, we find chapters devoted to "the grand portrait," "animals," "travel and topography," and "vision," wherein there are found discussions of, say, Reynolds, Stubbs, Girtin, and Blake. Reflecting recent trends in British art history, Vaughan weaves into his study the economic and social framework of art production during the period, but he does so without being too tendentious or dogmatic. One result of this approach are chapters treating hitherto neglected genres such as caricature, cartoons, and folk art. For all its freshness of treatment, it is brief, a survey, lightly but cogently defining areas for further discussion and elaboration by classroom discourse or other readings. General readers; undergraduates. L. R. Matteson; University of Southern California