Richard Parkes Bonington (25 October 1802 – 23 September 1828) was born in the town of Arnold, four miles from Nottingham, which explains why he chose this marketplace as a subject. He [was an English Romantic landscape painter, who moved to France at the age of 14 and can also be considered as a French artist, and an intermediary bringing aspects of English style to France. Becoming, after his very early death, one of the most influential British artists of his time, the facility of his style was inspired by the old masters, yet was entirely modern in its application. His landscapes were mostly of coastal scenes, with a low horizon and large sky, showing a brilliant handling of light and atmosphere. He also painted small historical cabinet paintings in a freely-handled version of the troubadour style. In late 1828 his tuberculosis worsened and his parents sent him back to London for treatment. Sadly Bonington died of the condition on 23 September 1828 at 29 Tottenham Street in London, aged only 26, and there were many copies and forgeries of his work made in the period immediately after his death.
Nottingham was a prosperous, expanding town in the early 19th century. It had some fine public buildings and an unusually spacious market place. The market was long established. Travelogue author Celia Fiennes visited the town in the 1690s, writing: “The Market Place is very broad – out of which run 2 very large streets”. In the 1720s, Daniel Defoe wrote: “As there is a fine market-place, so is there a very good market, with a vast plenty of provisions, and those of the best sort, few towns in England exceeding it’.
Beautifully executed with a real understanding of proportion, atmosphere and the relationship between the empty chasm of the sky and the busy scene below it; this is so gloriously Georgian.