6/6/11

Francis Danby, Scene from the Apocalypse


Private collection

Date: c. 1829
Technique: Oil on canvas, 61 x 77 cm

After attending the drawing school of the Royal Dublin Society and spending a brief period in London, Danby settled around 1813 for two decades in Bristol, in whose environs he painted the small, exquisite landscapes on which his fame today largely rests. Forced to leave England in 1829 due to financial problems and a marital scandal, Danby established himself in Paris and Geneva, where he remained until 1840. His oils, ink drawings, and watercolours, focussing on lyrically romantic landscapes, represents one of the most significant contributions made by any artist to nineteenth-century British landscape painting. He also concerned himself with religious themes, treated in a visionary manner.

The present painting is presumably one of four depicting scenes from the Apocalypse. In a Romantic nocturnal landscape evoking the infinity of the cosmos appears a vision of the giant angel described in Chapter 10 of the Apocalypse, descending in a cloud from heaven with a rainbow over his head and legs like columns of fire. The natural scene in which the visionary apparition is set evinces a coloration and sophisticated painterly handling that explain Danby's rank as one of the finest British landscapists of the nineteenth century.

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