London and Art: it's quite a story!

London and Art: it's quite a story!

London has always held a fascination for people from all walks of life because of its heritage, its diversity and its pop culture. From the banks of the Thames to the iconic silhouette of Big Ben, passing through the cityscapes of London, the location has been a source of inspiration for a multitude of artists, who have tried to reveal with each touch of brush or knife, the magic that operates in these places. Artists such as Monet, Canaletto and many others have taken London as the backdrop for their works. Whether you're a seasoned artist or just starting out, follow in the foot-steps of these renowned painters by drawing inspiration from the striking city.

English art in history

Despite the fact that London is very represented in art, there are very few English-speaking artists (Saxon known before 1700). English art must be viewed through the prism of migration in order to be understood since it was fundamentally shaped by successive waves of foreigners. Indeed, English painting in the 16th century was limited to portraits and allegorical scenes - the other genres having been proscribed because of royal absolut-ism and Protestantism - produced by foreign artists. This phenomenon is explained by the choice of the Court to turn to artists from across the Chan-nel in response to the poor training and mediocrity of local craftsmen. Thus, Antoine Van Dyck arrived in London in 1632 and was directly in the service of Charles I. He transformed the representation made of the Court by combining Venetian elegance with Flemish ardour. This artist profoundly influenced the artistic milieu and marked the artists of his time until the 19th century. Simultaneously, foreign artists imported new pictorial genres such as landscapes and still-life’s. In the following century, a new artis-tic movement was introduced by artists of multiple origins who had trav-elled to Italy: neo-classicism. This movement marked the development of English pictorial art and was the basis of the foundation for the Royal Academy of Arts in 1768. Thus, foreign artists were the representatives of English pictorial art of the 16th and 17th centuries as can be attested for the absence of names of local artists prior to 1700 in the Tate Britain Mu-seum display. Moreover, these artists from across the Channel gave an ex-traordinary boost to the painting of landscapes and portraits among English artists, such as Turner or Gainsborough.

Artists inspired by London

Despite the fact that it took a long time for England to see the birth of its own artists, London was the muse for a number of artists.

Monnet, a great impressionist master of his time, produced a series of paintings dedicated to the Anglo-Saxon metropolis, the first of which dates back to 1870. The best known are those produced at the very beginning of the 20th century. Monnet used to paint early in the morning looking at the old Waterloo Bridge from the window of his hotel on the South Bank of Lon-don. He was studying the change in luminosity on the waters of the Thames at dusk. He was so fascinated by the changing colours of the sky over West-minster Bridge that he depicted them on some of his finest canvases.

Another great artist found himself in London shortly after Monnet: Ca-mille Pissaro. It was in London that the two men met and shared a sincere and deep admiration for the works of English painters who preferred to practice painting outdoors rather than locked up in their studios.

JMW Turner was one of those. This romantic painter was one of the most renowned and appreciated artists in the United Kingdom and was famous for his seascapes, but also of English countryside and battles. One of his works, not counting among the best known, is a watercolour depiction of the Tower of London sketched in a notebook, possibly in order to document the destructive fire that broke out in 1841.

London also seduces today's artists such as VOKA or Afermov who illus-trate its beauty with dazzling colours. From artists past to contemporary, London is a true source of inspiration.

Our complete and modular paint by numbers kits, allow you to reproduce at home these great masterpieces of history bearing the image of the Eng-lish capital. Just browse our catalogue or send us the image of your choice to start a new London masterpiece!