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William Hodges - British Artist From Art History

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Historical Artist - William Hodges (1744 - 1797)

William Hodges began his career as a landscape painter working as the student and assistant of Richard Wilson from 1758 to 1765. Although he initially imitated his master’s style, he acquired a more individualistic approach after traveling with Captain James Cook. On this journey from 1772 to 1775, he served as the draughtsman while sailing to the South Pacific and made paintings from his drawings of Tahiti and Easter Island. From 1770 to 1784, Hodges worked in India and then traveled the continent after 1790. Five years later, he gave up painting and opened a bank in Dartmouth. He was a member of James Cook's second voyage to the Pacific Ocean, and is best known for the sketches and paintings of locations he visited on that voyage, including Table Bay, Tahiti, Easter Island, and the Antarctic. Most of the large-scale landscape oil paintings from his Pacific travels for which Hodges is best known were also produced after his return to London; he received a salary from the Admiralty for the purposes of completing them. These paintings are especially notable as being some of the first landscapes to use light and shadow for dramatic purposes. Hodges' use of light as a compositional element in its own right was a marked departure from the classical landscape tradition. Contemporary art critics complained that his use of light and color contrasts gave his paintings a rough and unfinished appearance.

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