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Language Focus: Vocabulary

Activity 1. Match the words underlined in the texts to their synonyms or synonymous expressions:

    1. vein

    2. surge

    3. quintessence

    4. affinity

    5. adverse

    6. err

    7. subsist

    8. willowy

    9. irksome

    10. abhor

    11. hapless

    12. pugnacious

    13. congenial

    14. ambience

    15. vehemence

    16. visage

    17. ostensibly

    18. eschew

    19. facet

    20. bequest

    21. rally

  1. apparently

  2. sympathy, attraction

  3. detest, despise

  4. mood, spirit

  5. unite, cooperate

  6. one aspect, side

  7. increase, rise

  8. friendly, agreeable

  9. legacy, gift

  10. exist

  11. abstain from

  12. model, embodiment

  13. aggressive, hostile

  14. passion, zeal

  15. harmful, unfavourable

  16. flexible, slender

  17. person’s face

  18. tiresome, annoying

  19. unlucky

  20. transgress, blunder

  21. surroundings, atmosphere

Activity 2. Match the words underlined in the texts to their dictionary definitions:

1. lucidity

  1. founder

  2. illuminators

  3. aloof

  4. deprecate

  5. chafe

  6. rope off

  7. discountenance

  8. ransack

  9. indigenous

  10. jaded

  11. felicities

  12. cavil

  13. sentient

  14. rustic

  15. translucence

  16. intransigence

  17. diatribe

  18. unravel

  19. pestilence

  20. mezzotint

  1. those who decorated pages of books produced in the Middle Ages with gold paint and light colours

  2. a picture printed from a metal plate that is polished in places to produce areas of light and shade

  3. to stop someone from doing something by showing your disapproval

  4. unnecessary complaints about someone or something

  5. no longer interested in or excited by life, especially because he has experienced too many things

  6. deliberately staying away from other people thinking that you are better than they are

  7. to surround an area with ropes in order to separate it from another area

  8. a disease that spreads quickly and kills large numbers of people

  9. something that is clear and easy to understand

  10. absence of will to change your opinion or behaviour in a way that would be helpful to others

  11. to fall after a period of time because something has gone wrong or a new problem has caused difficulties

  12. to search thoroughly; to turn everything upside down

  13. to understand or explain something that is very complicated

  14. being not transparent, but clear enough to allow light to pass through

  15. a long speech or piece of writing that criticizes something or somebody very severely

  16. to express disapproval

  17. well-chosen and successful features

  18. belonging to a particular place rather than coming to it from somewhere else

  19. to show irritation

  20. someone from the country, especially a farm worker

  21. able to see or feel things through the senses

Activity 3. Rearrange the text given below. Make sure you read through the completed text to check that the order of the paragraphs makes sense. Add new words which may come in handy when speaking about painting as a supplement to your vocabulary list:

1. On the importance of naturalness, the two very different painters Reynolds and Gainsborough agreed. Although they were often seen as real artistic rivals, both were concerned with freeing painting from any kind of 'tasteful' stylization. While the academician Reynolds tried to achieve this through the classical aesthetic, the quasi-autodidact Gainsborough tended to rely on intuition.

2. In order to provide himself with raw material for his ideal compositions we know from a contemporary account that ". . . from the fields he brought into his painting-room stumps of trees, weeds, and animals of various kinds." As an aid in composing, he made miniature landscape models on the top of a table. "He would place," wrote a contemporary, "cork or coal for his foregrounds; make middle grounds of sand and clay, bushes of mosses and lichens, and set up distant woods of broccoli." As we study his Landscape with a Bridge, for example, we realize that it is completely non-specific, and we cannot even be certain that the view is of the English countryside. Gainsborough, although he apparently loved his native land with its blue horizons, dreaming rivers, and noble trees, was more interested in portraying a mood than a specific view.

3. In many respects England served as a model for the thinkers of the French Enlightenment. This attitude of mind, shaped by the Enlightenment, also influenced artistic sense. Rejecting Baroque painting and the decorative contemporary tendencies, which were felt to be outmoded and hollow, one now sought an art which would reveal unaffected sensibilities.

4. "I'm sick of Portraits," wrote Gainsborough at the height of his successful career as a portraitist, "and wish very much to take my viol da gamba and walk off to some sweet village, where I can paint landskips and enjoy the fag-end of life in quietness and ease." In spite of this romantic attitude toward nature, Gainsborough rarely if ever painted actual views. Like most eighteenth-century theorists, he was convinced that nature in the raw was uncouth and unsuitable as a subject for painting. Only after the elements of a landscape had been distilled through the artist's imagination and gently turned into the ideal vision of a pastoral poet could the artist start to paint.

5. Two painters in particular pursued this goal, albeit in very different ways: Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds. Reynolds took his bearings from a search for the primal, the true beauty of classical ideals. The art of classical antiquity was his chosen model to bring his own works back to the sublimity and grandeur that he so missed in contemporary decorative art. He pursued this goal as a teacher and as president of the first English Academy, of which he was a co-founder.

6. Gainsborough's approach, which prefers to grasp reality with the senses, was widespread in England in the 18th century. While French rationalism declared purely abstract thought to be the basis of all knowledge, the English empiricists worked on the premise that all knowledge of reality came through the senses. Observation, trial and error and the conclusions drawn from them were, for them, the only valid foundations for knowledge.

7. Gainsborough was very impressed by the natural rhythm of Dutch landscape painting, which attracted little attention at this time. In contrast to the prevailing academic ideal of an Arcadian classical landscape in the style of Claude, or a conventional Rococo garden backdrop with ornate bushes, in his painting Mr and Mrs Andrews, he painted nature as it presented itself to the painter's eye. With this realistic vision, the painter succeeded in painting both a portrait of his client and a portrait of the landscape which – although shaped by human hand – appears untouched and natural.

8. Taking his lead not from classical ideas, but from an intuitive painting derived from his own vision and sensibility, Thomas Gainsborough tried to give expression to feeling. The portrait-painting which bound him to the wishes of his sitters, and which constituted his chief field of employment, as it did for Reynolds, was a source of constant torment to him. 'Nothing is worse than gentlemen', he complained. What he really loved was landscape painting: 'I do portraits to live and landscapes because I love them'.

9. In this, to an extraordinary extent, it corresponded to the Enlightenment ideal: (moulded) 'naturalness', which was also a feature of the English landscape parks and gardens that became fashionable around the middle of the century, in contrast to the artificial geometry of French gardens, was seen by the English thinkers of the Enlightenment as a symbol of natural beauty and individual freedom.

Activity 4. Read the texts below and complete them using the words from the boxes:

unsuitable demand cheaper creatures

recognition borders immorality mentality

showing educational wider grasping

The Enlightenment spirit

The growing confidence of the bourgeoisie in England encouraged a(n) …1… which produced a greater interest in tangible and useful things, as in the research of Isaac Newton, than in fabulous …2… and mythology. Christian themes had never been very much in …3… in the Protestant island kingdom. The English preferred moralistic and …4… works of art.

Also in the spirit of the Enlightenment, the English painter William Hogarth, with his sociocritical, ballad-like broadsheets, known as ‘moral pictures’, scourged the …5… of society. The idea was still current at the time that paintings …6… lowlifes were low themselves, and such subject matter was …7… for noble art. Thus, as oil paintings, satirical pictures like the satire of Marriage a la Mode: The Marriage Contract received little …8… . More popular, however, were the many engravings that Hogarth himself – cleverly …9… the situation – made from his paintings. With the …10… prints he reached not only a …11… public, but one that was very different from the traditional art audience, which took great pleasure in these popular broadsheets. The print brought Hogarth fame far beyond the …12… of his homeland.

hand patches compositions

devoted colour studies

balance harmonized nature idealization

Painting is Feeling”

In his landscapes John Constable turned away from earlier landscape …1… in the sense of the heightened …2… of nature. There is a …3… between complete abandonment to the emotions and deep sensitivity to nature on the one …4… , and scientific advances on the other. In the 1820s these are apparent in the systematic sky and cloud …5… characteristic of the work of Constable. The precise observation of …6… led the painter increasingly to disregard line, and the painting was gradually constructed from free …7… of colour, which were …8… to model the object. Constable strove for a “pure, genuine reproduction of the landscape, paying particular attention to the …9… ”.

John Constable’s works were very successful when they were shown in Paris in 1824. Influenced by Constable were the painters of the ‘Barbizon school’, who …10… themselves to plein-air painting in the 1830s.

Activity 5. Read the text below and complete it using the words from the box on the right in the correct form:

This painting, one of two views of Mortlake Terrace painted by Turner, is a view from the house, looking directly west into the luminous glow of the setting sun. Turner established the quiet mood of the late-afternoon scene with two ivy-covered elm trees, whose soft, …1… leaves and curving limbs frame the painting. Long shadows create elegant patterns on the lawn that almost obscure the human element in the scene. Scattered about are a gardener's ladder, a hoop, a doll on a red chair, and an open portfolio of pictures that have been just left behind by figures watching the Lord Mayor's …2… barge.

The painting was done about eight years after Turner's first stay in Venice, where his …3… of nature and the physical world was profoundly changed by the city's unique light and atmosphere. Light immobilizes the river and gives its surface a dreamlike shimmer. The stable mass of the classical gazebo, the delicate …4… clarity of its architectural details, and the carefully depicted windows in the buildings on the left bank of the river coexist in Turner's vision with the heavy impasto of the sun's …5… rays that spill over the top of the …6… wall and dissolve the stone's very substance.

Here Turner brings the great force of his romantic genius to a common scene of working-class men at hard labor. Although the subject of the painting is rooted in the grim realities of the industrial revolution, in Turner's hands it transcends the specifics of time and place and becomes an image of …7… visual poetry.

An almost palpable flood of moonlight breaks through the clouds in a great vault that spans the banks of the channel and illuminates the sky and the water. The heavy impasto of the moon's reflection on the …8… expanse of water rivals the radiance of the sky, where gradations of light create a powerful, …9… vortex.

To the right, the keelmen and the dark, flat-bottomed keels that carried the coal from Northumberland and Durham down the River Tyne are silhouetted against the orange and white flames from the torches, as the coal is transferred to the sailing ships. To the left, square-riggers wait to sail out on the morning tide. Behind these ships Turner suggested the distant cluster of factories and ships with touches of gray paint and a few thin lines. Through the …10… atmosphere ships' riggings, keels and keelmen, fiery torches, and reflections on the water merge into a richly textured surface pattern.

Feather

Ceremony

Perceive

Line

Force

Bank

Startle

Break

Swirl

Shadow

Activity 6. Use these word combinations speaking about your favourite British painters and their famous works of art:

In a fitful fashion; devotional wall painting; secular portraiture; flat patterns of colour; precise outlines; stiff heraldic poses; flourish and poise; to be the fetter of genius; fledgling painter; to be poured into a mold; billowing draperies; direct observation of nature; to record the visions of one’s inner eye; to observe life with a keen and critical eye; ability to compose a vivid group; delightful delicacy of colour; to find fruition; brilliant way of animating a surface; to dab in broad touches; unique capacity for rendering the freshness of atmosphere and the incidence of light; to scorn imitation; emphatic distortions; to live up to one’s promise.