Norwich School of painters

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The Norwich School of painters was the first provincial art movement established in Britain, active in the early 19th century. Artists of the school were inspired by the natural environment of the Norfolk landscape and owed some influence to the work of landscape painters of the Dutch Golden Age such as Hobbema and Ruisdael.


Map of Norwich 1781

The Norwich Society of Artists was founded in 1803 by John Crome and Robert Ladbrooke as a club where artists could meet to exchange ideas. Its aims were "an enquiry into the rise, progress and present state of painting, architecture, and sculpture, with a view to point out the best methods of study to attain the greater perfection in these arts." The society's first meeting was in "The Hole in the Wall" tavern; two years later it moved to premises which allowed it to offer members work and exhibition space. Its first exhibition opened in 1805, and was such a success that it became an annual event until 1825. The building was demolished but the society re-opened three years later, in 1828, as "The Norfolk and Suffolk Institution for the Promotion of the Fine Arts" at a different venue and exhibitions continued until 1833.[1]

The leading light of the movement was John Crome who attracted many friends and pupils until his death in 1821. The mantle of leadership then fell on John Sell Cotman, a member of the society since 1807, who continued to keep the society together until he left Norwich for London in 1834. The society effectively ceased to exist from that date.

The Norwich School's great achievement was that a small group of self-taught working class artists were able to paint with vitality the hinterland surrounding Norwich, assisted by meagre local patronage. Far from creating pastiches of the Dutch 17th century, Crome and Cotman, along with Joseph Stannard, established a school of landscape painting which deserves greater fame; the broad washes of J.S. Cotman's water-colours anticipate French impressionism.[2]

One reason the Norwich School artists are not so well known as other painters of the period, notably Constable and Turner, is because the majority of their canvases were collected by the industrialist J. J. Colman (of Colman's mustard fame), and have been on permanent display in Norwich Castle Museum since the 1880s.[citation needed] This lack of wider exposure was remedied in 2001, when many of the school's major works were exhibited outside Norwich for the first time at the Tate Gallery, London in 2000.[3]


Members and associates[edit]


  1. ^ Holme, Geoffrey (Ed.). The Norwich School (The Studio Ltd., 1920). p. 1.
  2. ^ Day, Harold. The Norwich School of Painters (Eastbourne Fine Art 1979)
  3. ^ Brown, D. B. & Hemingway, Andrew & Lyles, Anne. Romantic Landscape, The Norwich School of Painters (Tate Gallery Publishing, 2000).

Further reading[edit]

  • Brown, D. B.; Hemingway, Andrew; Lyles, Anne (2000). Romantic Landscape, The Norwich School of Painters. London: Tate Gallery Publishing.
  • Clifford, Derek Plint (1965). Watercolours of the Norwich School. Cory, Adams & Mackay.
  • Clifford, Derek; Clifford, Timothy (1968). John Crome. London: Faber and Faber Ltd. OCLC 557807587.
  • Cundall, Herbert Minton; Holme, Charles Geoffrey (1920). The Norwich school; John ("Old") Crome, John Sell Cotman, George Vincent, James Stark, J. Berney Crome, John Thirtle, R. Ladbrooke, David Hodgson, M.E. [and] J.J. Cotman, etc. London: The Studio Ltd.
  • Day, Harold (1979). The Norwich School of Painters. Eastbourne, UK: Eastbourne Fine Art. ISBN 978-0-902010-10-9.
  • Dickes, William Frederick (1905). The Norwich school of painting: being a full account of the Norwich exhibitions, the lives of the painters, the lists of their respecitve exhibits and descriptions of the pictures. Norwich: Jarrold & Sons Ltd.
  • Fawcett, Trevor (1974). The rise of English provincial art: artists, patrons, and institutions outside London, 1800-1830. London: Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0-19-817328-1.
  • Hemingway, Andrew (1979). The Norwich School of Painters, 1803-33. Oxford: Phaidon. ISBN 978-0-7148-2001-9.
  • Moore, Andrew W. (1985). The Norwich School of Artists. HMSO/Norwich Museums Service.
  • Mottram, R.H. (1931). John Crome of Norwich. London: John Lane The Bodley Head Limited.
  • Rajnai, Miklos; Stevens, Mary (1976). The Norwich Society of Artists, 1805-1833: a dictionary of contributors and their work. Norfolk Museums Service for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.
  • Scott, Peter Kennedy (1998). A Romantic Look at Norwich School Landscapes: By a Handful of Great Little Masters. ISBN 978-0-9534711-0-2.
  • Searle, Geoffrey R. (2015). Etchings of the Norwich School. Norwich: Lasse Press. ISBN 978-0-9568758-9-1.
  • Walpole, Josephine (1997). Art and Artists of the Norwich School. Woodbridge: Antique Collectors' Club. ISBN 978-1-85149-261-9.

External links[edit]