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Norwich School

The Norwich school of painters were the first provincial art movement in Britain. They were inspired by the natural beauty of the Norfolk landscape and were influenced by the cultural affinity of Norwich and Norfolk to the Benelux countries, in particular to the paintings of the Dutch masters of landscape paintings such as Hobbema and Ruisdael. Principle artists of the Norwich school include the self-taught John Crome, John Sell Cotman and Joseph Stannard. The Norwich school of painters are not as well known as other painters of the period, notably Constable and Turner, primarily because the majority of their canvases collected by the industrialist Jeremiah Colman have been on permanent display in Norwich Castle museum since the 1880's. This lack of exposure was remedied in 2001 when many of the major works by the Norwich school were exhibited for the first time outside of Norwich at the Tate, London. The Norwich school's great achievement was that a small group of self-taught working-class[?] artists were able to paint with a new vitality the surrounding hinterland around Norwich and were able to find sporadic patronage. Far from being pastiches of Dutch seventeenth century, Crome and Cotman along with Stannard established a school of landscape painting which deserves far greater fame; the broad washes of Cotman's water-colours for example anticipate impressionism.

In 1986 Norwich Castle museum acquired a late masterwork by John Crome entitled 'Back of New Mills Evening'. It is interesting to note that this painting includes a detail of a small boy trailing a toy boat from the stern of a yacht, a direct allusion to John Crome's rival, Joseph Stannard[?]'s masterwork 'Thorpe Water Frolic (1828) which also includes such a detail. Such was the intense rivalry between the major painters of the Norwich school.

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