Art is a passion of mine, having been brought up breathing the smells of varnish and oil paint while my mother pursued her love of painting. I then studied fine arts art at university and my love of art history deepened. My heroine in THE SEDUCTION OF LADY CHARITY Book #4 of The Baxendale Sisters series is an artist who hopes to become a renowned painter of portraits. I spent many a happy hour researching the art of the Georgian period and how women artists came into their own as the 19th century progressed.
Sir Thomas Gainsborough.
A family portrait painted for the gentry was important in the Georgian period to show a man’s wealth and position in society. Lands and houses often featured along with favorite pets in a formal studied pose.
Thomas Gainsborough Le Menage, unknown lady and gentleman in a landscape. Paris, Louvre (dated from the middle 1750’s)
Romanticism is a phenomenon which began around 1750 and ended about 1850, coming between Neoclassicism and Realism. There was a marked shift in emphasis from reason to feeling, from calculation to intuition, from objective nature to subjective emotion.
Thomas Gainsborough The Honorable Mrs. Graham, c. 1775
Mrs. Graham is dressed in the more formal, Rococo flamboyance of feathers and brocade, silver and crimson. Pride of birth and station is announced in every detail. It would have been intended to grace the grand stairway of a great country house.
Gainsborough, Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan c.1785
Gainsborough adopted the Romantic view of life and nature in this portrait. The lovely lady, dressed informally, is seated in a rustic landscape faintly reminiscent of Watteau in its soft-hued light and feathery brushwork echoed in her curly hair and the soft leafy scene in which she sits. Gainsborough did intend to add sheep to this painting to create a pastoral scene, but he died before he completed it. Here he seeks to match the unspoiled beauty of natural landscape with the natural beauty or the slight wind which is a sharp contrast to the pert sophistication of continental Rococo portraits.
Thomas Gainsborough Mr & Mrs. Richard Brinsley c. 1785
This was painted in the same year with another informal pose, as if just caught in the moment, with soft flowing drapery, but here, perhaps at the request of the subject, it displays Brinsley’s wealth in the lands and mansion in the background, much like the work seen earlier.
Women artists working in England in the Victorian era
lasdair Ranaldson MacDonell (1771–1828), 15th Chief of Glengarry
Emma Gaggiotti Richards, an English painter 1855. Marie Spartali Stillman 1844
Coming 20 April. THE SEDUCTION OF LADY CHARITY
Lady Charity Baxendale has long dreamed of becoming a renowned portrait painter. After two significant commissions from esteemed family members, a rakish Scottish baron commissions her to do his portrait, and she feels she is one step closer. When Robin, Lord Stanberry, with whom Charity has had a long friendship, asks her to marry him, she must choose between marriage and her career. She refuses him for he is heir to a dukedom, and Charity fears that not only would she be unsuited to life as a duchess, but also that her burgeoning career might end before it begins. And besides, Robin has made no mention of love.
Due to tragic unforeseen circumstances, Robin is now the Duke of Harwood. Robin feels himself unfitted for such a position. He was perfectly content living as a Viscount in Tunbridge Wells, writing a manuscript on ornithology. He’d hoped to have Charity at his side by the time he took his place at Harwood Castle, for her pragmatic nature and strength of character would be of enormous help to him. Should he have thrown himself at her feet and declared an undying love? Charity would have seen through it, for that was not the sort of friendship they enjoyed. But her refusal has brought him lower than he’d thought possible. Could he change her mind, despite the distance that now lay between them?
Resource: Art through the Ages, Eighth edition 1976