John Constable (1776-1837) was born in the village of East Bergholt in southern England. Unlike many British painters of his time, he did not yearn for the splendours of Italy, the Swiss Alps or the romance of the Rhine Valley, preferring instead to paint the unassuming meadows, country lanes, mills, locks and groves of his native Suffolk. Trips further afield took him to Salisbury, a city whose cathedral inspired numerous paintings, and to Weymouth and Brighton, where he found inspiration in the shorelines and craggy cliffs. Constable’s keen interest in meteorology and optics led him to observe natural phenomena without preconceptions and allowed him to develop an innovative technique with looser brushwork to suggest reflections of light enveloping the entire landscape.
Constable, more than any other artist, shaped 19th-century landscape painting. Delacroix praised him as the “father of our school of landscape”. Corot, Manet and the painters of the Barbizon School admired and studied his works. And even today, he remains a forceful and stimulating presence: in 2002 the British painter Lucian Freud, a great admirer of Constable, curated an eye-opening exhibition of his work in Paris.
The exhibition presents a spectacular selection of Constable’s oil sketches as well as a number of the artist’s exquisite drawings and watercolours (56 oil paintings, 29 drawings and watercolours).
Mark Evans, Victoria & Albert Museum
Dr. Christofer Conrad, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
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