'Landscape with figures', Philppe Jacques Loutherbourg, 1762-63
Artist: Philppe Jacques Loutherbourg (1740-1812)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 114 x 194 cm
Accession number: WAG 2899
Presented by CFJ Beausire in 1952
The artist spent most of his life in England but was French-born and trained. This early painting displays many conventions of the mid-18th century French landscape school. The scene itself is an invention and an excuse for a formal exercise. Warm and cool areas are carefully balanced, different types of scenery are combined to lead the eye across the work, and the whole is lit so that the animals and the couple stand out while other areas remain in shadow. When the painting was shown at the Paris Salon in 1763 it was praised by the great French writer on art, Diderot. Interestingly, the qualities which he singled out were the work's delicious freshness and the truth to nature.
Loutherbourg gained a reputation as an esteemed animal and landscape painter. Living in Paris until 1771 he left France and established himself in London where he was also well received. Loutherbourg was commissioned, among other works, to provide drawings for the decoration of Drury Lane Theatre. In 1780 he was named an Associate of the Royal Academy, and an Academician the following year. He later gained notoriety as a military painter, painting several victorious scenes of English sea battles.