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English Society of the Eighteenth Century in Contemporary Art (Classic Reprint)

English Society of the Eighteenth Century in Contemporary Art (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from English Society of the Eighteenth Century in Contemporary Art

Apart from any question Of sentiment, that may sanctify one age or execrate another, the Eighteenth Century is a period that is exceptionally interesting to glance over in search Of illustrations of Society in this country. For, as it happens, it is a period of continuous development in the art of painting; from a time, that is to say, when there was practically no English painting at all, till the arrival of Hogarth and his minor contemporaries; from him to the great age of Reynolds and Gainsborough; and though after these two nothing greater could be expected, yet in the close of the century, when their in?uence was still paramount, and when the Wider diffusion Of artistic in?uences that followed on the establish ment of the Royal Academy was giving a stimulus to almost every kind of art, it can hardly be said that there was any retrogression.

At the same time, the choice of illustrations for a subject of this sort must necessarily prove to be a matter of some little difficulty; for while our public galleries are confined to exhibiting only works of the first importance, the minor pictures, from which the bulk of the selection would naturally be made, are mostly in country houses, and not easily available for reproduction. But the reader will, I hope, so far appreciate the series here given as to share the gratitude I feel for the kindness of both owners and custodians in helping me to make it so full of interest and variety. TO others, also, whom I have invoked and found such fair assist ance, I Wish to acknowledge myself most gratefully indebted.

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