- Richard Wilson
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Richard Wilson
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"Our late ingenious academician, Wilson, has, I fear, been guilty, like many of his predecessors, of introducing gods and goddesses, ideal beings, into scenery which were by no means prepared to receive such personages. His landscapes were in reality too near common nature to admit supernatural objects. In consequence of this mistake, in a very admirable picture of a storm, which I have seen of his hand, many figures are introduced in the foreground, some in apparent distress, and some struck dead, as a spectator would naturally suppose, by the lightning; had not the painter injudiciously (as I think) rather chosen that their death should be imputed to a little Apollo, who appears in the sky, with his bent bow, and that those figures should be considered as the children of Niobe. To manage a subject of this kind, a peculiar style of art is required; and it can only be done without impropriety, or even without ridicule, when we adapt the character of the landscape, and that too, in all its parts, to the historical or poetical representation. This is a very difficult adventure and it requires a mind thrown back two thousand years and, as it were, naturalised in antiquity, like that of Nicolo Poussin, to achieve it…"
- Sir Joshua Reynolds Discourses, 14
"Landscape was afterwards still farther debased by Vernet, Hakert, Jacob Moor and the English Wootton, the last of whom, without manual dexterity, left it in unredeemed poverty and coarseness… Then, with Wilson and Gainsborough, the high and genuine qualities of landscape appeared in England at a time when they were utterly unknown in any other part of the world."
- John Constable