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Amal Asfour

(b Dunkirk, June 14, 1715; d Rouen, July 14, 1791).

French painter, writer and dealer. He began his artistic training in Dunkirk, continuing it in Antwerp. In Paris, Descamps frequented the studios of Nicolas Lancret and Nicolas de Largillierre and drew at the Académie Royale. He later settled in Rouen and gathered around him a circle of pupils to whom he taught drawing. By 1749 teaching had become formalized on the model of the Académie Royale in Paris and Descamps’s institution was granted the title of Ecole Royale, Gratuite et Académique de Dessin, de Peinture, de Sculpture et d’Architecture. It became the model for other provincial academies.

In April 1764 Descamps was made a member of the Académie Royale in Paris on submission of the painting Peasant Girl in her Kitchen (Paris, Ecole N. Sup. B.-A.). He was admitted to the Académie as a ‘peintre dans le genre des sujets populaires’. His paintings, which typically depict scenes of daily life, were influenced by the work of Chardin and Greuze. He exhibited several genre paintings at the Salon of ...

Article

Janet Southorn

(b Verona, c. 1700; d Dresden, May 27, 1753).

Italian painter, writer and connoisseur. Orphaned at the age of 11, he trained for three years with the Veronese painter Biagio Falcieri (1628–1703). With the help of a member of the Bolognese Albergati family, he then moved to Bologna, where for the next seven years he studied with Giuseppe Maria Crespi. In 1725 he became a member of the Bolognese Accademia Clementina. For the next 20 years he worked in Venice, more as a connoisseur than as a painter. By his own account, his chief wish had always been to make himself expert in connoisseurship and he had accordingly read widely, studied works of art with care (copying sections in order to understand better the styles of different artists) and travelled throughout Italy and in England, Germany and Spain, taking every opportunity to see the works of Old Masters. He thus developed an intimate knowledge of artistic style, which, as he observed in ...

Article

David Mannings

(b Plympton, Devon, July 16, 1723; d London, Feb 23, 1792).

English painter, collector and writer. The foremost portrait painter in England in the 18th century, he transformed early Georgian portraiture by greatly enlarging its range. His poses, frequently based on the Old Masters or antique sculpture, were intended to invoke classical values and to enhance the dignity of his sitters. His rich colour, strong lighting and free handling of paint greatly influenced the generation of Thomas Lawrence and Henry Raeburn. His history and fancy pictures explored dramatic and emotional themes that became increasingly popular with both artists and collectors in the Romantic period. As first president of the Royal Academy in London, he did more than anyone to raise the status of art and artists in Britain. His Discourses on Art, delivered to the students and members of the Academy between 1769 and 1790, are the most eloquent and widely respected body of art criticism by any English writer.

Although Reynolds’s father, a fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, and master of Plympton Grammar School, had intended that his son train as an apothecary, Joshua chose instead to seek fame as a painter. In ...

Article

David Rodgers

(b London, 1665; d Bloomsbury, May 28, 1745).

English painter, writer and collector. He trained as a portrait painter in the studio of John Riley, later marrying Riley’s niece and living in his house until Riley’s death. The double portrait of Lady Catherine Herbert and her Brother Robert (1698; Wilton House, Wilts), among the finest of his early works, owes an obvious debt to Riley, but by 1711, when Richardson painted Thomas Watson-Wentworth, 1st Marquess of Rockingham (Cambridge, St John’s Coll.), he had developed his own style. Tighter and more formal than that of his master, with a smooth finish described by Sir Joshua Reynolds as ‘cold and hard’, it was better suited to male than female sitters, and his most successful female portrait is that of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1719; Sandon Park, Staffs, priv. col.), a woman of strong mind and independent opinions. Richardson’s career prospered and by 1731 he was described by Vertue as one of the three foremost masters of the day with Charles Jervas and Michael Dahl, and could charge 20 guineas a head and 70 for a full-length; he was certainly the leading London portrait painter after the death of Sir Godfrey Kneller in ...