Richard Parkes Bonington

English painter (1802 - 1828) specialising in landscapes and architectural studies in watercolour and oil

Bonington's father, also called Richard, was a painter and exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Liverpool Academy between 1797 and 1811. Having been involved in the Nottingham lace-making industry, Bonington's father moved the family from Nottingham to Calais in 1817 where Richard studied watercolour painting with Louis Francia (1772 - 1839). At Francia's suggestion, Bonington moved from Calais to Paris where he enrolled at the workshop of French painter Antoine-Jean Gros (1771 - 1835) who had a reputation as a skilled colourist and a progressive teacher. He mastered the art of drawing à la bosse (from sculpture casts) and engaged in en plein-air (open air) sketching. From an early age he displayed a talent for watercolour painting.

Bonington traveled around France and Europe extensively during his short life. In London in 1825 he sketched Gothic architecture and medieval armour with French painter Eugene Delacroix (1798 - 1863), while his trip to Venice in 1826 gave him the opportunity to study the work of artists such as Titian (1485/90 - 1576), Tintoretto (about 1519 - 1594) and Veronese (1528 - 1588) first hand. Their influence is evident in the subject matter and colour range of the work he made during period.

Bonington's brilliant, fluid landscape sketches in oil and watercolour helped to create a fashion for "troubadour" subjects -- fanciful, mysterious and evocative re-creations of historic interiors and balcony scenes, built on studies made from the old masters seen in Paris, London and Venice, and inspired by Walter Scott's (1771 - 1832) writing and orientalist fashions.

Bonington exhibited with great success in London and Paris between 1822 and 1828 but died that year just as his reputation was increasing. His work is best represented in the Wallace Collection in London.
  • Gender
  • Relationship
    Artist/maker, Previous owner
  • Nationality
    British: English
  • Born
  • Place of birth
    Europe: Northern Europe: UK: England: Nottinghamshire: Nottingham: Arnold
  • Died
  • Place of death
    Europe: Northern Europe: UK: England: London
  • Cause of death
    Exhaustion; Tuberculosis
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