For this research point I was asked to find two artists who exemplify mastery of detailed drawing.
I used to have a reproduction painting site and am familiar with the works and lives of quite a few but since starting this course I’ve been introduced to new artists and new techniques so I thought I’d carry that on by typing in a few keywords on Google to see where they took me.
The first artist I found was a 19th century artist called Thomas Hartley Cromek and after seeing that his place of death was Wakefield, my home town, I made the decision to research this artist a little more.
Born in London in 1809 Thomas Hartley Cromek was the son of Robert Hartley Cromek the engraver and art dealer who allegedly cheated William Blake out of potential profits. In his childhood he moved from school to school starting off his education at Enoch Harrison’s school in Wakefield and then onto the Moravian School in Fulneck. He then moved back to Wakefield to study at the grammar school there before returning to Harrison’s.
Thomas Hartley Cromek received his first art lessons from a Wakefield based portrait painter, James Hunter but then in 1826 he moved to Leeds study landscape painting under Joseph Rhodes, while studying in Leeds Thomas also taught himself anatomical drawing.
He travelled to Italy in 1830 to study the old masters and spent most of the next 20 years within the country mainly in Florence eventually reaching Rome where he attracted much attention for his ‘excellence in drawing and his careful colouring’ – Wikipedia. While in Rome he gave drawing lessons to several distinguished visitors including the British artist and poet, Edward Lear.
Between 1831 and 1849 Thomas Cromek spent most of his time drawing the major buildings in Rome as well as Greece but then was forced to leave Rome with the outbreak of the first Italian War of Independence.
There’s not much information about Thomas Hartley Cromek online about techniques, ideas, influences etc but I did find quite a few images.
I found many of his works online but it was the drawing above that caught my eye and I thought it was quite relevant to this module. The drawing itself is only 7 1/4 x 8 1/8 in in size and yet his brilliant use of shadow amplifies the detail of the drawing. I enlarged this image on my computer to the size he would have worked at and was amazed how much detail he has got into such a small drawing with what I still regard to be a messy medium, for me that is anyway. He has managed to depict some very thin leaves and blades of grass and makes this picture seem a lot bigger than what it is.
Just like his drawing of plants and flowers his watercolour paintings of buildings such as the Temple of Antoninus above shows brilliant detail and colour as well as amazing shadows which really amplify the bulkiness of the stone structure.