Friday, June 02, 2006

Constable's Landscapes at Tate Britain 1 June-28 August

[This post has been updated with images which could not be uploaded yesterday due to a Blogger malfunction]

A new exhibition of Constable's Landscapes opens at Tate Britain today and runs until 28 August. It features his "six footer" canvases of views around the River Stour and other places in the UK. According to the exhibition briefing from Tate Britain his move to larger canvases was part of a strategy to become noticed by the Royal Academy and to paint on a scale equivalent to the classical landscape artists.

As I'm particularly partial to landscapes (and the River Stour) I'll be going to see the exhibition. I'm particularly interested in the fact that the exhibition will show how the paintings were produced including the fact that he produced full-scale preliminary sketches for some of them. The Tate site says
These large sketches, with their free and vigorous brushwork were unprecedented at the time and they continue to fascinate artists, scholars and the general public. It has been said that it is this practice more than any other aspect of Constable's work which establishes him as an avant-garde painter, resolved to re-think the demands of his art and to address them in an entirely new way. The exhibition re-unites the full-scale sketches with their corresponding finished pictures in order to explore their role in Constable's working practice.

I know from having visited the National Trust's Bridge Cottage museum at Flatford Mill - where they have an exhibition of reproductions of the six foot canvases of working life on the River Stour (see above) - that his finished paintings were produced in his studio. That exhibition also shows reproductions of some of the small sketches that he did for each painting. I shall be interested to see how he achieved a balance in the preliminary work done "plein air" (or "in the field") and that done in the studio.

The photos below are of:
  • what the boatyard (in the above painting) looks like today
  • the mill pond next to Willy Lott's cottage made famous in The Hay Wain
  • (for further details see here)

I have a Gallery of Plein Air and Landscape Paintings on my website - although the largest images I've produced to date are around 25 inches! I still have a long way to go in more ways than one! However, I've been thinking about trying to reorganise my website so that I can match up the sketches I do in the field with the final paintings. At the moment I only have one page - work in progress - which gives some insight into the process of how I produce a final work.

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I am sooo jealous. I love the art galleries of London and would love the opportunity to see them whenever I like but it is a very long way from Sydney. I will just have to enjoy it through your eyes.

    Scratches & Scribbles

  2. Katherine,

    Do you know if there will be a catalog for sale that goes along with the show. Since the chances of me getting to the Tate are would be great to have the catalog instead.

    Art & Life

  3. Robyn - I don't think it's going to be travelling to Sydney somehow. One of the critics has already complained about taking The Hay Wain out of a really good place to see it in the National Gallery and taken it down the road to Tate Britain. Somehow I have a feeling I know which galleries it's in! Tate Britain does lack galleries with really good natural light.

    Jan - I should think so. Try the link to the site and then go the shop. I don't know what it would cost them to post it to you but those catalogues are usally pretty heavy.


COMMENTS HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED AGAIN due to very silly ignorant people who leave spam comments without realising they have no benefit for them.

Please feel free to comment on my Facebook Page as my blog posts are always posted there (but please note anonymous comments are not published and I block and report spammers to Google and on Facebook)

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.