Thursday, 31 January 2013

The New English Art Club- London Impressionists.

Hello everyone,

Thanks so much for taking time to read my blog and thank you for all the lovely comments which I have been left recently, they are really making me smile!!!

Today I thought I would do another one of my art blog posts and tell you about The New English Art Club 

The New English Art Club (NEAC) was founded in 1885 by young English artists, many of whom had returned from Paris where they had been studying art. Some of the founding members include John Singer Sargent, Phillip Wilson Steer and Stanhope Forbes. It was founded around a time of rapid social change and with the approach of World War I the NEAC became more diverse. The NEAC was revolutionary in that women's work was shown in equal numbers to men and Avant Garde art such as Impressionism was well represented in the group. It was to be an alternative to the Royal Academy, England and the academic style which was favoured by them. The Royal Academy was seen as restrictive and full of traditionalists who rejected the impressionist style. Many of the artists in the NEAC could not exhibit in the Royal Academy as they were not accepting of their style of artwork so the NEAC was founded as an exhibiting society alternative to the Royal Academy. They had their first exhibition in 1886. By the turn of the century the NEAC was no longer revolutionary or representing the Avant Garde English artists.

There were three groups associated with the NEAC:
  • London Impressionists
  • Newlyn School
  • Glasgow Boys
Today I will discuss the London Impressionists

London Impressionists
The London Impressionist painted urban London which was constantly evolving and changing during this period due to industrialisation. They often painted the new places and spaces in the city such as concert halls, theatres and cafes.

Little Dot Hetherington at the Old Bedford 1894 - Walter Sicket
Walter Sicket, a member of the London Impressionists believed that it was a moral obligation of the artist to depict modern city life. He was heavily influenced by the French artist Degas (associated with French Impressionism) and following his approach, moved away from Aesthetic art towards scenes of urban environment and the atmosphere in these new space. Degas was fascinated by the stage and preparations for performance. He is particularly well known for his depiction of ballet dancers both on stage and practicing. Below is one of Degas' paintings of a ballet scene in which can be viewed in comparison to the Sicket in terms of the subject matter, the unusual angle of the image which was influenced by photography and how the viewer attention is being drawn to the figure/ figures on stage due to the use of spotlighting.
Ballet scene from Robert le diable 1876

Sickert was criticised  for mimicking the French Impressionists as the London Impressionist wanted to have a uniquely English style of Impressionism. The London Impressionists depicted the same subject matters as the French Impressionists, music halls, streets, outdoor space, pubs and cafes, but in London so this is what set them apart. They would travel around London on bus, a new mode of transport, and visit these place and observe and draw what they saw. This was different to what they were doing at the Royal Academy. In the RA they were classically trained so were producing their paintings in the studio as opposed to going out into the city. They were also using models and props rather than painting real people who they saw on the streets or in these new places.The scenes although similar in subject matter to the French Impressionists were still unique to London.

Hope that this has given you a little introduction to the London Impressionists and the work of Walter Sicket.

The Dorothy Days

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