Exhibition: British Watercolors of Italy at RISD

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on September 29, 2011

From the RISD Museum of Art:

Distant Climes: 18th-Century British Views of Italy
Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, 1 September 2011 — 3 June 2012

John "Warwick" Smith, "Assisi in the Province of Umbria," 1794 (Providence: RISD Museum of Art)

Around 1750, British watercolorists began to travel to Italy to visit its ancient sites and idyllic countryside. Distant Climes assembles Italian views by some of these early travelers, including Richard Wilson, Richard Cooper II, and John “Warwick” Smith.

Watercolor, then a relatively new medium for landscape painting, became essential to these artists as they recorded their impressions of Italy for themselves and for collectors back home. Most adopted the idealizing and classicizing concept of nature promoted by the previous generation of landscape and perspective painters working in Italy, including Claude Lorrain and Antonio Canaletto. Their watercolors also demonstrate an interest in form, composition, and atmosphere rather than the naturalistic color, and layered washes more indicative of watercolors made after 1800.

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