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ST*ART Spaces: Crome, Texture and Tales

To celebrate Norwich Castle’s current exhibition A Passion for Landscape: Rediscovering John Crome, we’ve been investigating how the activities and atmosphere of the everyday is captured in Crome’s work.

We’ve focused on his painting Boulevard des Itailens, Paris 1818.

John Crome was an artist in the early 18th century. He was born and lived in Norwich all his life and helped to set up a very important group of painters called The Norwich School of Artists who would meet regularly and share their ideas.

The landscape painters of the Norwich School of Artists wanted to paint the Norfolk landscape as they really saw it – from beautiful, calm Norfolk fields and countryside, to the hustle and bustle of real people going about their everyday activities.

In John Crome’s times, there were no cameras to photograph scenery. He wanted to capture everything about the landscape that he saw - including things that some artists might have thought too ordinary or too ugly to include.

If you look closely in his artworks you might see washing hanging out on a line to dry or a stumpy old tree that has been chopped about to provide firewood for people.

John Crome’s skill was in taking all of the things that he saw in a piece of scenery and recording them in his sketches and paintings with equal amounts of care and attention. In Boulevard des Itailens, the people working in the market are just as important to him as the fashionable people shopping.

When we look at John Crome’s paintings now, we can see how our landscapes have both changed and how they’ve stayed the same.

Perhaps John Crome painted some scenes near to where you live?

Boulevard des Italiens, Paris 1818 
John Crome (1768-1821), Oil on Canvas
Norfolk Museums Service (Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery); NWHCM : 1935.1.1; David Gurney Collection

Hear me, see me  

Come on an audio amble and linger a while in the sounds, smells and sights of John Crome’s Boulevard Des Italiens.

Listen to the audio amble on SoundCloud.

View the transcript of the audio amble here.

Have a go at home

John Crome’s paintings were mainly of Norwich and around East Anglia.

Perhaps you could visit the places he painted in the 19th century and see how they have changed?

These include:

Photograph or sketch the scene so that you can build your own picture of how it looks now.

You might also be interested in seeing the Crome’s Norwich exhibition at the Museum of Norwich to see how contemporary photographer Nick Stone has combined Crome’s historical landscapes with his own images of those scenes today.

Alternatively, why not research old photos of where you live and take a photo or make a sketch of how they look today?

Show us!

When you’ve finished, we’d love to see your work!

Share with us using #StartSpaces on social media platforms or email content to:

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