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Reynolds and I have been described as exact opposites. I seek to learn my trade by my own hand not at some pretense to any system that is better than nature herself. Reynolds on the other hand seeks to understand art by some compass that is supposed to refine his hand and eye. He is also much keener on watching and learning from other men of letters and this is not my desire or my goal. I care only about the nature of my art, does it build on or represent the value in the object?
Waterhouse 11) Reynolds, has also been described as my chief nemesis, even though our work has hung opposite one another in many shows. We are contemporaries with different styles, nothing more. I harbor no animosity toward him, nor do I wish to be continually compared to him as if we were separated twins seeking out completely different fortunes in the same art. The last thing I will say about Reynolds and then I will say no more is that the only thing that makes us rivals in the least is the fact that we are two skilled artists who were born in the same century. Had we been born and worked in different centuries our works would never have been compared, nor our lives or our goals.
The Royal Academy of the Arts, has been a mainstay in my life for many years and it was many a time that I looked at my membership there as a point of pride, as a mark of success. I have been a founder-member since I was 41 years old and yet they have given me no special care or concern, other then demanding that I produce for their yearly exhibition and then hang my paintings as they see fit.
Waterhouse 8-9) it is sad to say that this membership and mark of progress turned away from me in a dire manner. It is so simple a thing to grant the artist the right to hang his works as he sees fit, rather than by some other designers compositional eye and yet the Academy denied me this simple right and created animosity in a previously fruitful relationship. It was in part the rift between myself and the Academy that drew me out of Bath and back to London.
Waterhouse 9) Demand and necessity had forced serious increases in my sitting fees, as I began to be so well-known that I had not a moments rest in bath and had to charge more simply to keep from working all the day and night.
London again in 1775, did not suit me entirely but it was where I needed to be at this time in my life. I sought refuge by taking leave of my commissioned work to paint my beloved nature, if a bit different than before I would hope still as memorable. Bath had afforded me the luxury to delve into a variety of art I have not seen before, experimenting with medium and content and expressing my less contrived nature. A sea of faces has always left me feeling like I wanted something more organic, something with a peculiar view and possibly something less rigid and formed. (Art Encyclopedia NP) as most my sitting clients prefer to have themselves characterized by the utmost realism (excluding the downplay of their overarching flaws) the abstract paining is few and far between and much to my liking.
Waterhouse 29) in a sense the Cottage Door Is an idyllic scene to me, though there seems to be a storm brewing in the background and the family may be in danger they are together, clinging to the countryside and making a life for themselves in the great world, rather than in the infamy, dust and hubbub of the city or even the circus like nature of the resort town. The cottage is protected and sheltered from the impending storm and the family will likely be safe and sheltered by it. They have their market goods and will likely go inside in a few moments and begin to make a meal of them.
Waterhouse 29) to me it is infinitely sad that I had to wait until 1780 to paint a work I consider my favorite, not for lack of skill or desire at an earlier time in my life but for lack of leisure to do so. The Cottage Door has marked a coming back to reality, and I loved no work better since I was able to capture the likenesses of my beloved children so many years ago. Having returned to London in 1774, and having the desire to bring some country to the city, I built my studio right in the garden, and if the noise from the streets abates long enough I can put my mind in a place that is similar to my landscapes and the country of my boyhood home. I longed for my country life so much that I actually spent most of my waking hours seeking to capture the feel of it on canvas. In a manner I was obsessed with the idyllic scenes I had remembered as a boy and sought desperately to find them again, if not in reality at least in memory.
Waterhouse 25) it was really the only way I could endure the hubbub and intrigue of London.
It is actually surprising to me that I was able to conjure my favorite work as in the same year that I painted it (1780) I was commissioned by royalty. This was really the first time that my skill had surpassed Reynolds' place as the favorite among the very high class. I was to paint George II and Queen Charlotte which I did and then hung the following year at the Academy, only after a long embroiled reconciliation.
Waterhouse 26) Though this commission did nothing for my relationship with Reynolds it did prove that I was to become the favorite of the aristocracy all because I had made a significant sacrifice, forsaken the country and moved back to the city. (Art Encyclopedia NP) the final years of my life, did not prove to have an enduring piece with the Academy and having established myself and made my way as a man I will close my life by showing my works, as I please within my own home. I will do this annually and hope that this will endure after I am gone. (Waterhouse 8)
Art Encyclopedia "Thomas Gainsborough April 18, 2008 http://www.answers.com/topic/thomas-gainsborough?cat=entertainment
BBC 2008 "Thomas Gainsborough" April 18, 2008 http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/gainsborough_thomas.shtml
Van Dyke, John C. The History of Painting Project Gutenberg Edition April 19, 2008 http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18900/18900-h/18900-h.htm
Waterhouse, Ellis. Gainsborough.…[continue]
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