This is one of a pair of works with Howes’ ‘Palemon and Laviniain a Landscape’ (GAC 7078). Their subject is taken from ‘The Seasons’, a series of four poems by the Scottish poet James Thomson.
Thomson’s poem ‘Winter’ was first published in April 1726. ‘Summer’ was published in February 1727 and ‘Spring’ in June 1728. Revised and enlarged versions of the three works were reissued as ‘The Seasons’ by bookseller Andrew Millar in June 1730, along with Thomson’s fourth poem in the series, ‘Autumn’, and a final ‘Hymn’.
‘The Seasons’ was hugely successful throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. It celebrates the magnificence and harmony of nature and its impressive picturesque landscapes have made it a favourite work for artists to illustrate.
The story of ‘Celadon and Amelia’, from the poem ‘Summer’, is the most popular scene for artists to illustrate. Howes’ work shows the melodramatic moment when Amelia is struck dead by lightning as she is held in the arms of her lover, Celadon. Thomson wrote:
Little is known of the family or early life of miniature and enamel painter John Howes. He entered the Royal Academy Schools on in 1770 and gained the Academy's silver medal two years later. He exhibited portraits, landscapes, and other subjects in enamel, as well as some miniatures, at the Royal Academy between 1772 and 1793, showing 32 works at the Academy in total. In 1777 he painted an enamel portrait of David Garrick from a drawing by decorative painter and draughtsman Giovanni Battista Cipriani, which was presented to the actor by the Incorporated Society of Actors of Drury Lane Theatre. Horatio [Horace] Walpole, Fourth Earl of Orford, is reported to have commented that the likeness was ‘very bad and unlike’.
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