Richard Parkes Bonington – The English Romantic Landscape Painter

The English 'Romantic' landscape painter, Richard Parkes Bonington or Richard Bonington, was born on October 25, 1802, in Arnold, near Nottingham, England. The only child of Richard Bonington, a dabbling painter & a prison guard, and Eleanor Parks, a teacher, the artist showed interest in drawing & acting, since his early childhood. He gave to the world an astonishing mix of classical flairs, modernized with finesse.

Bonington's father traced him on watercolor painting and at the tender age of 11, he had his first exhibition at the Liverpool Academy. After his father lost his job, the Boningtons decided to migrate to Calais, France, in 1817. Here they started a lace factory, with Richard simultaneously being trained on English watercolor paintings, under the painter, François Louis Thomas Francia. In 1818, the Bonington family moved to Paris to start a lace retail outlet. Richard disliked working at the factory and favored painting and sketching. To pursue his artistic interest, he joined Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris for 1819-22 session, against his father wishes, and studied under Baron Antoine-Jean Gros.

In Paris, Richard Bonington befriended Eugène Delacroix and also got an opportunity to learn watercolor painting from the famous painter, François Louis Thomas Francia. In 1821, the painter traveled to Normandy with his friend and a fellow student, Alexandre-Marie Colin. During his trip, he recorded the scenes of fish markets and architectural ruins, selling his works later to two Paris based dealers. Richard Bonington had his first successful exhibition at the Salon in 1822, where Société des Amis des Arts bought two of his paintings. His admirers included none other than the artists of high caliber, like Corot, Delacroix, and Gros. At the age of 20, Richard went to Italy for eleven weeks with Baron Rivet and drew "The Leaning Tower, Bologna." In 1823, he began work on his lithographic series on architectural ruins, "Restes et Fragmens," which fetched him a gold medal at the Paris Salon, in 1824.

Richards Bonington became influential in England and France, as a master of 'Romanticism.' His works were generally poetic in essence and were famous for their technicalities & the vivid use of colors. Richard regarded Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), the leading artist of the French Revolutionary era, as one of his greatest influences. "The Harbor, Le Havre (1821), La Seine A Mantes (1824)," Place Du Molard (1826), "The Bridge and Abbey at St. Maurice d'Agaune" 1826), and "Souvenir De Venise (1828)." The destiny however, harshly nipped the surging phenomenon called Richard Parkes Bonington. Tuberculosis, coupled with work initiation and sunstroke, claimed his life at an early age of 26, on September 23, 1828, in London.