In European art, use of colour was fundamentally based within the environment of the artists' studio until the 19th century, thus the French artist Eugène Delacroix drew upon his observations of nature for his use of colour in Taking of Constantinople by the Crusaders, notwithstanding, the overall harmony created owed little to recorded nature. However by the middle of the 19th century, the naturalist ethic of Realism, had taken hold with more artists changing to outdoor locations. The new movement, resulted in a change in the disposition of the artist to his environment. Portable tubes of paint made it possible to work outside and directly from nature. This gave 19th century artists an important technical advantage, enabling them to combine science with an appreciation of the colours of nature. Gustave Courbet's The Meeting or Good-day Monsieur Courbet shows the artist equipped with a mobile easel and out on the open road. The artist meets his patron: Bruyas has just removed his hat to greet Courbet, whereas Courbet's hat is already in his hand, because that is how he as a free artist chooses to walk. Courbet outlined the new art in his letter of 1861:
"Painting is an essentially concrete art and can only consist of the representation of real and existing things. It is a completely physical language, the words of which consist of all visible objects. An object which is abstract, not visible, non-existent, is not within the realm of painting."
The Pre-Raphaelite Landscape
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB) founded in 1848 by seven people. Some Works are attributed to the PRB within the canvas. Ford Madox Brown is associated with the movement, without his actually joining the PRB. Three of its artists:
- Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
- John Everett Millais
- William Holman Hunt
were the subject of a 2010 BBC2 drama series "Desperate Romantics", which shows the dedication of the PRB to the cause of art. Set locations emphasised interior of houses, studios and towns rather than rural settings. Oxford, and in particular the University, provided inspiration for some early works. Views near Ewell and Hastings are in the background of painting by members of the Brotherhood. A shared interest in realism (truth to nature), united the PRB. The initial aims of the PRB were independent of art critic John Ruskin, although he supported the PRB and, incidentally, provided the intellectual underpinning in the books:
- The Seven Lamps of Architecture (published May 1849),
- The Stones of Venice (published from 1851 to 1853),
Unstable in nature as Ruskin was, the historic cities of Northern Italy had a predictably tumultuous effect on his writing: great medieval art frequently felled him. Giotto's series of frescoes in the Arena Chapel of Verona represented an alternative model to the classical perfection of works such as Raphael's "School of Athens." They also, in relation, to the Renaissance work represent a conventional interpretation of events. "School of Athens" within its broadly symmetrical framework, depicts philosophers, poets and mathematicians that lived in different periods of time, together in the same room; a temporal discontinuity that might have concerned the PRB.
The group was, however, interested in portraying more than literal meanings. Symbolism comprised elements:
- Message filtered through conventions
- Rossetti - Beata Beatrix. Rossetti is associated with the medievalist-side of the Brotherhood.
- Millais - Christ in the House of His Parents, Ophelia.
- The Pre-Raphaelite ideal.
- Innovation in use of symbols and colour symbolism
- Holman Hunt - The Hireling Shepherd uses primary colours scheme:
Holman Hunt upheld the PRB founding tenet (such as it was) of realism. He made the decision to visit Palestine in 1855 where he was able to make accurate Biblical studies. Hunt lectured a muezzin in 1855. "When... I tell him that the Khoran (sic) forbids the representation of living creatures, he seems as much enlightened," Hunt wrote in his diary. Which is not surprising, since the Koran says no such thing.
Rossetti was steeped throughout childhood in the atmosphere of medieval Italy. Both strands were influenced by Romanticism, with the works of Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare's a source of inspiration. The depiction of British druids represents a tradition outside of classical references and Christian religion.
Outdoor locations in Impressionist art
Courbet spent three months in Trouville between September and November 1865. He invited Claude-Oscar, Camille, and the Boudins to Deauville in 1866, and four years later, he was a witness to Monet and Camille's wedding at Trouville. Monet and Auguste Renoir admired and imitated Courbet, although he remained wary of the homage of these young Impressionist painters.
- Monet sought to capture the effects of light, by working on location, which he found while on vacation In France. The Beach at Trouville has washed-out colours from scattered light on the Normandy coastline.
- In the summer of 1869 Renoir and Monet worked together painting reflection of light on water from the River Seine at La Grenouillère, eight miles downstream from the Paris suburb of Argenteuil.
- Monet required access to no more than a limited range of colours and as such stated that, "the point is to know how to use the colours, the choice of which is, when all's said and done, a matter of habit. Anyway, I use flake white, cadmium yellow, vermilion, deep madder, cobalt blue, emerald green, and that's all."
- Édouard Manet (1832-1883) was one of the first 19th century artists to approach modern life subjects and acted as a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism. The social commentary in his paintings, matched the naturalism of author Émile Zola.
- Walter Sickert painted
- Brighton end-of-the-pier shows.
- Facade of St Jacques, Dieppe, with its rose window.
- Camille Pissarro lived at Pontoise, on and off between 1866 and 1883, choosing the rural environs of the provincial capital for a series of large-scale landscapes that have been called his early masterpieces.
- Paul Cézanne painted numerous views of Montagne Sainte-Victoire in Provence.