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Richard Parkes Bonington, An Estuary in Northern France

Key facts
Full title An Estuary in Northern France, possibly that of the River Somme
Artist Richard Parkes Bonington
Artist dates 1802 - 1828
Date made about 1825-7
Medium and support Oil on fibre board
Dimensions 16.7 × 27.9 cm
Acquisition credit Accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the National Gallery, 2012
Inventory number NG6619
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
An Estuary in Northern France
Richard Parkes Bonington

It is likely that Bonington made this around 1825-7 at La Ferté, on the estuary of the river Somme in northern France. He probably painted it on location using a wet-in-wet technique – painting directly onto wet paint rather than building up layers or glazes over time – that enabled him to recreate the spontaneity of watercolour in oils. Broad horizontal brushstrokes evoke an expansive blue sky. Vertical strokes create a bank of clouds and a suggestion of rain in the distance. Some details, such as the seated woman on the right, may have been added later in the studio.

Bonington’s parents were English but he spent much of his life in France, travelling extensively in Normandy and Picardy. The freshness and immediacy of his painting was particularly admired by French artists, such as Eugène Delacroix, and later by the Impressionists. One of the most promising artists of his generation, he died aged only 25 in 1828.

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