While the Baroque style did continue into the 18th century, it became less fashionable as new styles emerged such as the light, floaty aristocratic Rococo style and at the end of the century, the stoic Neoclassical style.
William Hogarth [designer] (1697-1764) and Thomas Cook [engraver] (1744-1818)
Chairing the Members
Accession # 73-7-5
William Hogarth is one of the most influential and well-known English artists, known best for his satirical caricatures and realist portraits. Some of his most well known works are comic-strip like series of paintings called, "modern moral subjects" in which he depicts progressing stages of a story, revealing the grotesque and immoral aspects of society. This print is the last of four in the Humours of an Election series depicting corruption in a 1754 parliamentary election in Oxfordshire at a time when voters were disenfranchised by property requirements and extensive bribery and intimidation because there was no secret ballot.
This print, Chairing the Member, depicts the chaos as the victorious candidate is about to be toppled from his celebratory chair by a fighting mob. Hogarth criticizes corrupted elections by showing this scene of violence as the inevitable conclusion to the suppression and misconduct of the previous three works in the series. Hogarth originally made this series in oil paint in 1755 and he later recreated the series as engravings.
Jan van Huysm (1682-1749)
Floral Still Life
Oil on canvas
Accession # 48-1-8
A native of Amsterdam, Van Huysum was a Dutch still life painter, who also produced Arcadian landscapes and mythological scenes. He specialized in flower pieces, which were highly sought after by such aristocratic collectors as William VIII and Sir Robert Walpole. Influenced by the scientific naturalism of the Dutch Baroque, Van Huysum painted his works directly from life and traveled to horticultural centers like Haarlem to study rare flower specimens. Noted for his complex floral bouquets, he painstakingly applied thin layers of oil paint to render the delicate color and textures of fragile blossoms. As seen in this work, his earlier still lifes often have dark, shadowy backgrounds with light concentrated on the center of the bouquet. In keeping with the symbolic meanings of Dutch still lifes, his works aimed to spark spiritual contemplation related to the transient beauty of nature and earthly existence. The motif of a bird’s nest also appears in this flower piece. As artistic symbols, bird’s nests with eggs herald a new spring and can serve as poignant reminders of both the fleeting cycles of seasons and human life.
--Description by Gregory GIlbert, 2019
La Villa au dela d'une Riviere [The Market at Dolo]
Accession # 56-1-32
Canaletto was a Venetian painter and printmaker most famous for his depictions of city views [vedute] in Venice, Rome, and later in England. His works are detailed and accurate, capturing weather and light and daily activities of those in the city as it would have viewed by him, as evidenced by the blurring of figures in the background which he couldn't see. This accuracy was made possible because Canaletto did often work outside from nature, unlike other artists of the time who worked indoors.
Canaletto is one of the most famous and successful of the vedutisti, artists who created large-scale, detailed cityscapes. This genre of artwork gained importance and recognizability because of the Grand Tour, a rite of passage trip where young, upper-class men would travel throughout Europe looking at art, attending concerts, and mingling with socialites. Venice and Rome (where Canaletto got his start) were mainstays of any Grand Tour itinerary and these travelers would often commission or purchase cityscape paintings or prints as souvenirs of their travels.
Richard Earlom (1743-1822) after Claude Lorrain (1600-1682)
Seaport with the Debarkation of a Lady of Quality
Mezzotint and etching
Accession # 55-2-26
The mezzotint printing process was developed in 1642, gaining popularity in the 18th century. Mezzotints are created by roughening the surface of the metal printing plate using a rocker. The printer can either selectively roughen the areas to be dark while leaving the light parts of the image untouched (additive), or use the more popular subtractive method where the entire plate is roughened, then the areas to be lighter are burnished. Unlike earlier printing methods using stipples or crosshatching to create darkness (compare to other prints on this page), this tonal method creates a soft gradient of tones and was popular for copying oil paintings because of the ability to more accurately capture the soft tonal shifts that painting allows.
This mezzotint was created by the English mezzotinter Richard Earlom after a painting by the Baroque artist Claude Lorrain as part of a commission to copy all 200 drawings of Lorrain's works. This set of prints was compiled into a book, Liber Veritas. Earlom used etching to capture Lorrain's pen strokes and used mezzotint for Lorrain's ink washes.