Monday, March 30, 2009

The Creation of Light

George Richmond 1809-1896
The Creation of Light 1826
Tempera, gold and silver on mahogany
support: 480 x 417 mm
The Tate, London

This painting was submitted to the Royal Academy exhibition of 1826 but was rejected

At that time, Michelangelo notwithstanding, you could not depict the Supreme Being.

Richmond was greatly influenced by William Blake.He first met Blake, at Linnell's house, in 1825. Richmond later said that conversing with Blake was like 'talking to the Prophet Isaiah'

In using tempera, Richmond was influenced by the work of Cennino d'Andrea Cennini (c. 1370 – c. 1440), and in particular Il libro dell'arte, often translated as The Craftsman's Handbook. Written in the early 15th century, the book is a "how to" on Renaissance art. It was recommended to Richmond by Blake when Richmond asked for advice on how to handle tempera.

Richmond was one of "The Ancients": a group of disciples of William Blake that formed around him in London in the last years before his death in 1827.

The implication of the name was that as the Industrial Revolution burgeoned they were looking back to a better age. Their leader was Samuel Palmer and the other chief figures were Edward Calvert and Richmond.

For a few years between 1826 and 1834 they gathered in the Kent village of Shoreham where Palmer owned a house. Their work expressed a mystical vision of nature, in Palmer's case deeply Christian.