Richard Parkes Bonington

Richard Parkes Bonington

Armand Cabrera

Richard Parkes Bonington was born in Arnold, England in 1802. His family moved to Calais, France in 1817, then moved again to Paris. The young Bonington spent time copying pictures in the Louvre. He met Eugene Delacroix in Paris and the two artists became lifelong friends. At fifteen, Bonington entered the studio of Baron Gros. Bonington rose quickly in the ranks. His bravura painting and excellent drawing facility garnered much praise throughout his career. The Academic schedule of drawing from casts soon bored Bonington and he found himself at odds with his teacher. By 1821, the relationship reached its breaking point and he set out on his own path of study.

Bonington preferred to paint on location and record nature and modern life. Longing to break from the stylized stage settings and mythic genre of most academic landscapes,
Bonington set out on a sketching tour to Normandy. He explored painting and sketching from life, focusing on coastal scenes. In 1822, he illustrated travel books for Parisian publishers. The success of these illustrations led to his demand with publishers, dealers and collectors. During this time, Bonington studied the art of lithography and received financial backing to publish his own set of lithographic views of Normandy.

Bonington received a Gold Medal for his entry in the Salon of 1824. The Salon was a turning point for landscape art. Young painters sought to overthrow the restrictions on subject and finish set by the Academics. Leading the attack were the English painters.

Although Bonington’s career spanned less than ten years, his influence on French painting was profound. Bonington was skilled in watercolors and oils and also created fine lithographs and engravings. He was the link between the English landscape painters, Turner and Constable, and the Barbizon School and the Impressionists.

Bonington fell ill during a sketching trip and contracted a complication of pulmonary consumption. He died one month before his 26th birthday.

Richard Parkes Bonington ‘On the Pleasure of Painting’
Patrick Noon
1991 Yale University press

Quote Lithography is drawing itself. In it we discover the hand, the thought of it’s author: it is not a faithful copy; to our mind it is the echo of the model, it is a mirror that reflects and multiplies the original.~ R.P. Bonington