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Vocabulary activities


1. The following words and expressions have been removed from the text. Choose one from the list below to fit each gap.


to get bored with find it important inclination link ideal portraitist herald passion landscapist rarely look natural take care

Thomas Gainsborough

Thomas Gainsborough was the favourite painter of the aristocracy, but he himself was not interested in high society. This tender-hearted artist had a 1 for music and delighted in the theatre, yet ignored literature, hated writers and read little. When Reynolds told the Artists’ Club that Gainsborough was the first 2 in Europe, Richard Wilson remarked that Thomas Gainsborough. Self-Portrait. About 1758 – 59. Oil on canvas. National Portrait Gallery, London, UK.

in his opinion Gainsborough was the first 3 in Britain.

But in essence Gainsborough when at his best was trying to create something that could 4 portraiture and landscape painting, an illusory but memorable world, where human character blended with the nature around it. Even his London portraits seem to suggest we are still in the country.

When Gainsborough 5 making portraits he painted landscapes for his own pleasure. Though he passionately loved nature he 6 if ever painted actual views. Like most of the XVIII century theorists, he was convinced that nature as it exists was an unsuitable subject for painting. He 7 that the elements of a landscape should be distilled through the artist’s imagination and gently turned into the 8 vision of a pastoral poet projected onto the canvas. To be able to make his ideal compositions he brought into his painting room stumps of trees, branches and animals of different kind. As he wanted his creations to 9 he arranged a miniature landscape on the table.

His landscapes are completely non-specific; we can’t say which country is intended as he purposefully avoided rendering the exactness of the place. Though he loved his native land with its blue horizons, dreamlike rivers and beautiful trees, his 10 was to portray a mood rather then a specific view. He 11 that the landscape shouldn’t remind one of any specific English countryside.

Gainsborough’s dreamlike landscapes 12 the great English school of landscape painting.


2. Look at the pictures and read the following texts. Pick out words and expressions connected with painting.


1) “Lady Elizabeth Delmé with her children” by Sir Joshua Reynolds

As you can see this family group portrait is identified as typical for the Grand Style. As the rules of the Academy demanded, the painter shows Lady Delmé with an airof informality on the terrace before her country house against a landscape. Reynolds took care that the gestures, facial expressions and poses of his sitters would convey their age,character as well as their social status. It is obvious from the family portrait that Lady Delme belonged to the privileged society, as Reynolds uses different symbolic features J. Reynolds. Lady Elizabeth Delmé and her Children (1777 – 1780) Oil on canvas, 239 x 147 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington.

to emphasize her dignity, grace and knowledge of her beauty and of her social position.

Lady Delmé is shown in drapery, as Reynolds was afraid that the costumes of his period, that were familiar to anyone, would destroy all dignity. So the main figure in the picture is painted in an imaginary dress. Her five-year-old son John is presented as if he is sensing the responsibility of manhood. He is looking at the distant horizon.

Her other son, Emilius Henry, who is three years old, is shown in skirts, as the boys of his age were dressed at the time. As he is younger he is not so responsible-looking as his brother. The fourth member of the group is shown as the embodiment of the family affection. This detail is as important as the remaining details. Note the deliberate simplicity of the pyramidal design. The colour scheme is chosen in low key. All these symbols in portrait painting were regarded as requirements of good taste. As Reynolds was painting this family group he wrote: “The vulgar will prefer bright colours to the grandeur of simplicity”.



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