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Edwards 1808
Edwards 1808
Edward Edwards
Anecdotes of Painters who have resided or been born in England; with critical Remarks on their Productions
Printed by Luke Hansard & Sons for Leigh and Sotheby, W.J. and J. Richardson, R. Faulder, T. Payne, and J. White
London, UK
1808
Primary published
328 pp. including index + 8-page account of Edwards's life, 6-page preface and 33-page introduction. Frontispiece: monochrome print of Edwards after his self-portrait, by Cardon. The book was 'intended as a continuation to the Anecdotes of Painting by the late Horace Earl of Orford'. Individual artists are discussed biographically, with Wilson accorded 12 pages, including a list of prints after his paintings: pp. 77-83. (Reynolds was given 29 pages, Gainsborough 13.)
Some highlights from the text: In the reign of George the Second, the Art of Painting first appeared with lustre, under the cultivation of the English Artists; it was then that Hogarth, Hayman, Reynolds, Ramsay, Scot [sic] and Richard Wilson*, who were natives of Great Britain, first exhibited their talents as Painters; and of these the greater part rose to very high rank, and their abilities marked with auspicious distinction the commencement of the reign of his present Majesty [George III]. * Although Mr. Gainsborough had discovered considerable talents in landscape painting, yet it was not till some years after, that he displayed his full powers as an artist (p. 1). [...] It is not known at what time he [Wilson] returned to England, but he was in London in 1758, and resided over the north arcade of the piazza, Covent-garden, at which time he had gained great celebrity as a landscape painter (p. 79) [...] Though he had acquired great fame, yet he did not find that constant employment, which his abilities deserved. This neglect might probably result from his own conduct, for it must be confessed, that Mr. Wilson was not very prudentially attentive to his interest; and, though a man of strong sense, and superior education to most of the artists of his time, he certainly did not possess that suavity of manners, which distinguished many of his cotemporaries [sic]. On this account, his connections and employment insensibly diminished, and left him, in the latter part of his life, in comfortless infirmity (p. 79). [...] As a portrait painter (which was his first pursuit) his works are not sufficiently known, nor are they marked by any traits which distinguish them from the general manner, which then prevailed among his cotemporares [sic] in that line of art (p. 80). [...] In his pictures [landscapes], the waving line of mountains, which bound the distance in every point of view; the dreary and inhospitable plains, rendered solemnly interesting, by the mouldring [sic] fragments of temples, tombs, and aqueducts, are all indicated in a masterly manner, exhibiting that local character, which though it be familiar to the inhabitants, cannot but be considered as peculiarly grand and classical (p. 81). [Reynolds's criticisms of P90 and/or P90B contained in his 1788 Discourse and quoted at length by Edwards] certainly must be considered as forced, and as the effect of petulant pique, rather than the correction of just criticism (p. 84). [...] The severity of Sir Joshua, as before remarked, was in some degree attributed to private pique, and not without reason, for Sir Joshua and Mr. Wilson were often observed to treat each other, if not with rudeness, at least with acrimony. But that we may not seem desirous of concealing the defects in this artist's productions, we must observe, that Wilson, in the executive part of his works, was rather too careless, a defect which increased in the decline of his life, and that his foregrounds were at all times too much neglected and unfinished (pp. 85-86). Another peculiarity in his practice cannot be passed over without notice, namely, his frequent repetition of the same subject or view, for, excepting his principal picture of Niobe, there are few of his paintings, which he has not repeated four of even five times, and with little or no variation. This circumstance will hereafter render it difficult to the future connoisseur, to determine the originality of many of Mr. Wilson's pieces, which, nevertheless, are the productions of his own hand (p. 86). Mr. Wilson left many excellent drawings and sketches, which are mostly executed in black and white chalk, upon blue grey Roman paper (p. 86). [...] Mr. Wilson had several pupils, among whom the following are the most considerable: Mr Plimer [...], Mr. Johnson Carr or Kerr [...], Mr Steel [...], Joseph Farington, R.A., William Hodges, R.A., Thomas Jones Esq. [...], Mr Feary [...], Mr Atkinson [...] (p. 87).
10/07/2019