The Epochs of Painting – Ralph Nicholson Wornum (1864)


The Epochs of Painting – Ralph Nicholson Wornum (1864)


Title: The Epochs of Painting: A Biographical and Critical Essay on Painting and Painters of All Times and Many Places

Author: Ralph Nicholson Wornum

Publisher: Chapman and Hall, London, 1864.

Condition: Full leather, school prize binding. Very good. Embossed on cover: “Science and Art Department Queens Prize for Art”. Hinges rubbed, gilt to all edges. Blindstamp to title page, prize sticker on endpaper. Marbled endpapers. Very well-bound. 583pp, 8.5 inches by 5.5 inches. Illustrated with numerous black-and-white engraved plates. A heavy book, overseas shipping might cost extra.

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An art history book, mostly about Western art, which goes into great detail. Once used as an art textbook, and is a very pleasant and informative read, both as an introduction and for those already well-versed in the subject. The book is filled with steel engravings, many of which are very beautiful

About the author (from Wikipedia):

Ralph Nicholson Wornum (1812–1877) was an English artist, art historian and administrator. He was Keeper and Secretary of the National Gallery of London from 1855 until his death.

In December 1854 he was chosen as successor to Thomas Uwins and George Saunders Thwaites, as jointly Keeper of the National Gallery and Secretary to the trustees, on the recommendation of Sir Charles Eastlake, a reforming move in the administration of the Gallery, with a large increase in the salary. Eastlake himself was appointed Director of the Gallery in March 1855, and in the following July were issued Treasury minutes entirely reconstituting the administration. In 1860−1 Wornum was chiefly instrumental in getting the Turner collection, which had been banished first to Marlborough House, and then to South Kensington (1856–60), restored to its place in the National Gallery, in accordance with the terms of the artist’s bequest. Wornum worked with John Ruskin on this project. Turner’s legacy included some drawings considered obscene; Wornum burned them, and Ruskin watched him do it.

Wornum’s energies were devoted to improvement and development, and he deprecated the separation of the pictures by British artists from those by foreigners.

n 1855 Wornum edited and practically rewrote a Biographical Catalogue of the Principal Italian Painters, ‘by a lady’ (Maria Farquhar), while in 1856 he contributed the Lives of British artists to Edward Shepherd Creasy’s British Empire. During 1861 he edited, in a sumptuous folio, with memoir and notes, The Turner Gallery, forming a series of sixty engravings. Walter Thornbury, in his Life of Turner (1862), passed some disparaging remarks upon Wornum; a reply came in an article in the Quarterly Review (April 1862), in which Wornum’s work was commended. In the introduction to the Turner Gallery Wornum pleaded for an enlargement of the Trafalgar Square galleries, which were quite inadequate to contain the 725 pictures then belonging to the nation.

Wornum’s major publications were:

‘The Epochs of Painting: a biographical and critical Essay on Painting and Painters of all Times and many Places,’ London, 1847; enlarged, 1859 and 1864. This was dedicated by Wornum to the memory of his father. Appended to the later editions is ‘a table of the contributions of some of the more eminent painters to the exhibitions of the Royal Academy.’ This was adopted as a text-book for art school examinations.
‘Analysis of Ornament: the Characteristics of Style and Introduction to the Study of the History of Ornamental Art,’ London, 1856; 8th edit. 1893.
‘Some Account of the Life and Works of Hans Holbein, Painter, of Augsburg, with numerous illustrations,’ 1867. Appended was a catalogue of portraits and drawings by Holbein at Windsor.
‘Saul of Tarsus; or Paul and Swedenborg. By a Layman,’ London, 1877. Wornum had been a member of the New Church, though as a ‘non-separatist’ he remained in communion with the Church of England. In this book he expressed the notion of conflict between the teaching of Christ and the theology of St. Paul.

In addition Wornum edited:

‘Lectures on Painting’ [by Barry, Opie, and Fuseli], 1848, for the Bohn Library;
Horace Walpole’s ‘Anecdotes of Painting in England,’ with notes and emendations, London, 1849, 3 vols. (a revised edition appeared in 1888);
‘The National Gallery;’ a selection of pictures by the old masters, photographed by Leonida Caldesi (with annotations), London, 1868–73;
‘Etchings from the National Gallery,’ 18 plates, with notes, two series, 1876−8.