This public lecture will compare the rival eighteenth century portraitists Thomas Gainsborough and George Romney, united by their disaffection from portrait painting but revealing contrasting constructions of creativity in their sketches and drawings.
Gainsborough, who was in love with rural life and his invention of British landscape, played with new techniques and combinations of materials with innovative skill and gestural verve. He gave away many of his drawings to friends
Romney, the intense and obsessive melancholic was in search of inspiring historical or social themes and his mercurial sketches in endless private notebooks are attempts to capture inspirational moments at speed in order to serve profound artistic and philosophical ends. His obsessive graphic re-workings of themes are in some respects ‘blind’ drawings propelled towards unachievable goals whereas the pragmatic Gainsborough never ceased to tweak the fresh ‘look’ of his drawings for both his own and others’ pleasure.
This lecture proposes that the hegemonic project of portraiture served to mask the underlying tensions between the neoclassical and the romantic and between grand European narratives and mundane British issues of class, wealth and social mobility that could be addressed more directly in drawing.When
Tuesday, 13 October 2015, 4:15 pm
Singapore Theatre, Melbourne School of Design