The Regency era is such an interesting period of time. In spite of the turbulence of the Napoleonic Wars and the falling outs with the Americans, life still went on. Part of that involved the arts including painting.
I thought you readers might enjoy taking a quick look at some of the painters that lived at the same time as Jane Austen or painted the Regency era. Did she enjoy art? The short time I spent researching that topic didn’t reveal anything and will require more effort. We do know she enjoyed music and dancing, and some of the paintings we’ll consider today might include some that she saw in person at one of the galleries in London in 1815 when she was invited to visit the Regent’s home.
Austen learned that the Prince Regent admired her novels and kept a set at each of his residences. In November 1815, the Prince Regent’s librarian James Stanier Clarke invited Austen to visit the Prince’s London residence and hinted Austen should dedicate the forthcoming Emma to the Prince. Though Austen disliked the Prince Regent, she could scarcely refuse the request. Austen disapproved of the Prince Regent on the account of his womanising, gambling, drinking, spendthrift ways and generally disreputable behaviour. Wikipedia.org
In this post, I’ll consider four painters who’s works reflect the Regency era or who actually lived during that time period. One of my favorites is Edmund Blair Leighton who, although he lived after Jane Austen, is known for his Regency and Medieval paintings.
Edmund Blair Leighton (1852-1922)
Leighton was a fastidious craftsman, producing highly finished, decorative pictures, displaying romanticized scenes with a popular appeal. It would appear that he left no diaries, and though he exhibited at the Royal Academy for over forty years, he was never an Academician or an Associate. Wikipedia.org
The following paintings give you an idea of how beautiful his works are. A couple of them, I even featured in my illustrated Darcy Chooses Parts1 and 2.
A Wet Sunday Morning
Signing the Register
These first two were in my illustrated books. Of the next two, the first is a Regency scene, and the second is one that I would like to build a story around in future.
The Gallant Suitor
My Next Door Neighbor
Joseph Mallord William Turner – 1775-1851
Born in the same year as Jane Austen, it’s possible she saw some of his works when she visited London. Known basically for his landscapes and ocean scenes that included storms and ships, his earlier works are more defined than his later paintings that became more abstract. I wonder if his paintings would have been her ‘cup of tea.’
Turner – Self-Portrait
Dolbadarn Castle (in Wales)
A View of the Archbishop’s palace – Lambeth
(Turner was only 15 years old when this watercolor was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1790)
Fisherman at Sea
All five of these paintings were done before Jane Austen’s death in 1817 along with several others, any of which she might have seen in person.
I do recognize his genius and love most of his earlier works and some of his abstracts though they are not my favorites.
Marguerite Gérard (1761-1837)
For nearly 50 years, Marguerite Gérard very successfully devoted herself to art garnering fame and wealth for her efforts. She won three medals for her beautiful paintings and exhibited regularly once salons were opened to women in the 1790’s. Gérard was also the first woman in France to succeed as a genre painter. She is best known for her domestic genre scenes portraying mainly women and their children in intimate settings even though she also produced oil portraits, portrait miniatures, and etchings.
Lady Reading in the Interior
(This is my Avatar and my favorite painting by Marguerite Gérard)
As you look at her paintings, note the exquisite detail of the ladies’ dresses. They look so real, I just want to reach out and touch them.
Le déjeuner du chat (The Cat’s Lunch)
(And I want to pet this gorgeous cat)
La Nourrice (The Nanny)
She never married and never had children as she was completely devoted to her art and career. It can truly be said that she was an independent woman in a time period that saw women as being very dependent on the men in their lives. Marguerite Gérard flourished by standing on her own and setting a standard for female artists for the future.
Although they were in separate artistic genres and in different countries, Jane Austen and Marguerite Gérard did have some characteristics in common and might have been friends or appreciated each other’s works, at the very least, if they had ever met.
Frédéric Soulacroix – 1858-1933
Soulacroix is one of my very favorite painters because of the exquisite details in his works. The wallpaper on my desktop and the painting on my Facebook Fan Page/Timeline are all one of his paintings called ‘Flirtation.’ I just love it.
Soulacroix loved painting beautiful women dressed and otherwise. We’ll ignore the otherwise in the post.
Although Edmund Blair Leighton painted more than one class of persons, Soulacroix seemed to deal more with the wealthy upper classes. Thus, his paintings are of women in rather expensive clothes and surroundings: silks and satins on women in opulent drawing rooms. And they are gorgeous.
Unfortunately, he was after Jane Austen’s time though many of his paintings were of Regency bent and probably on into the 1830’s. I wonder if she would have appreciated his works. I hope so and that you do as well.
One of the details I love about ‘Flirtation’ is her shawl/stole. If you can get a closeup view of it, it looks like it is made of a sheer net fabric. His painting of the fine details made his works very special.
Look at the post of the music stand below.
Afternoon Tea for Three
The Afternoon Visitor
I hope you have enjoyed a quick look at some painters whose works reflect the Regency era. Please let me know in your comments below if you would like to see more in the future.