Through Foreign Eyes. Painters from the Low Countries in Seventeenth-Century England
(Christopher White) The Low Countries - 1995, № 3, pp. 190-197
England has from the beginning been a nation of writers but it is only from the early eighteenth century that the English can claim to have produced a body of native painters, responsible for providing the lion's share of the nation's pictures. With the exception of miniature painters practising a specialist art and the occasional native of distinction such as William Dobson, John Michael Wright and Francis Barlow, the history of painting in England during the seventeenth century was very largely the creation of foreign artists, particularly from the Netherlands, both north and south, who either came on short visits or for various reasons took up residence there. In the later sixteenth century they were often refugees fleeing from war and religious persecution, whereas a century later economic hardship sometimes prompted their emigration to England. Portraiture, that essential accompaniment to the life of a court, was very largely served by foreigners, primarily by Anthony van Dyck and Daniel Mytens before the Civil War, and by Peter Lely and Godfrey Kneller after the Restoration - with the result that the English image of the Stuart kings is very largely their creation. Although portraiture was the predominant activity of painting in seventeenth-century England, there were other categories of subject-matter painted by the visiting artists from the Low Countries and some of what they produced forms the subject of this essay.
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