In this particular artwork by Sir Joshua Reynolds “The Lady Delme and her children” Sir Joshua Reynolds conducted his successful career during the height of the English Rococo. The Rococo style caught on in England as the country had a huge rise in middle class and wealthy merchant businessmen due to its advances and control over new colonies in the West, South and East. Reynolds was able to serve the needs of this growing middle class with his flattering elegant portraiture style.
The Era was characterised by hedonistic freedom and a pursuit of all things aesthetically pleasurable. Reynolds helped to define different concepts, he was a renowned intellectual who socialised in the elite social circles of London and received most recognition for his portraits. His popularity was due to his ability to raise figureheads of the day to a mythological level by painting them in the up most elegant stances.
Colour palette: For flesh tones, Reynolds used black, blue-black, lake, carmine, white, orpiment, yellow ochre, ultramarine and varnish. The artist painted various colours upon one another so the paint could mix as naturally as possible.
Brushwork: Joshua's brush work was smooth and not heavily applied to the canvas. His strokes are long,hard, and broad in nature. He does not completely blend his brush work in this painting, which makes them very clear and bold. Reynolds work was done on an extremely large scale, in this particular work the scale was 238.4 x 147.2. This allowed him to be free with his brush as he used different types of brushes in various widths and lengths to help him create the finer detail, particularly in this portrait. Tho Reynolds also used very loose and free lines, which he made in dark and bold colours.
Composition, tone and lighting:Joshua positioned the core lighting upon the main figure and his background landscape was also accentuated. He created stark shadows where necessary and bold highlighting to emphasise the primary colour, so the eye could follow a harmony in the works that created a natural, three dimensional effect. He also used varying degrees of chiaroscuro with is colour schemes by darkening and highlighting the tone where appropriate to create depth. This worked to accentuate the sitter's space in the image and render a realistic view of the sitter on the flat canvas, Reynolds paid great attention to the background draperies, props and clothes. Their numerous folds and textures helped define the light source and depth of the picture. Thus, accentuating the folds of fabric added realism to this work. My research suggests that the artist felt that the breadth of the light provided was very important. The amount of light given to the work had to fit with the rest of the picture to create harmony and maintain the elegance of the portrait. Colours To achieve the desired colour, Reynolds first laid the carmine and the various white tones, depending on the tone he wanted. The second layer would be the orpiment with more white, and finally he would apply blue-black and white. It was most important to get the mixture on the palette as close to the sitters complexion as possible. It was one of the first things Reynolds did concerning the colour scheme after the initial sketch. His mixing techniques have become legendary. He felt that blatantly mixing the colours would affect the natural blending so he opted to layer the colours while still fresh and wet. If the colour needed to be lighter or darker, he would apply additional layers. By layering the wet, soluble colours, the paints were allowed to have a fresh, clean appearance. Reynolds believed the eye had to feel the colours, not merely see them. However, his paint application was not excessively thick. Reynolds used a primary colour such as red as the main force in this work, he then included reds all over the work to redirect the eye to the primary colour to emphasise the sitter's flesh tones. He used bold colours to create...
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