Monday, January 27, 2014

The Artz of William Gilpin

William Gilpin was a schoolmaster, author, Anglican Clerk and most importantly this week he was an artist.

He was born in Cumberland England in Scaleby Castle, educated at Queen's College, Oxford, Headmaster at Cheam School, Vicar of Boldre in Hampshire. During his time as Vicar he took on a student named Caroline Anne Southey who would become an artist
and Poet.
                                Castle in a Welsh landscape By Rev. William Gilpin
William Gilpin is my 4th cousin 9 times removed, in other words; my 10th great grandfather was his 3rd great grandfather.

He described his paintings as Picturesque. Picturesque : visually charming or quaint, as if resembling or suitable for a painting. William painted and wrote about  what he saw as he traveled during summer breaks into journals and notebooks. After being published his books became a sort of travel guide for an eager audience armed with sketchbooks and romantic tour plans.

To William a picturesque scene should be intricate, rough, varied and without straight lines. It should include a dark foreground, with a screen in the  front or on the sides, a lighter, brighter middle at a distance and a scene depicted even further in the distance. He would
 paint from a low viewpoint occasionally adding the odd tree or boulder to create the perfect composition.

A personal color atlas from British artist William Gilpin (1724-1804). His sketchbook titled "Hints to Form The Taste & Regulate Ye Judgement in Sketching Landscape" is from 1790.

His writings contained few historical facts about a place and his descriptions vague but he would write what he thought would make a sight more picturesque such as this comment he made while painting Tintern Abbey; "a mallet judiciously used might render the
insufficiently ruinous gable of Tintern Abbey more picturesque".

                                                                  Tintern Abbey

Many of William's manuscripts are housed in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

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