9/17/2012

John Constable

 John Constable Weymouth Bay: Bowleaze Cove and Jordon Hill oil on canvas 1816  

If I had to name my favorite ten painters, John Constable (1776-1837) would probably make the list. I love the brilliantly true color of his landscapes, his energetic but completely descriptive brushwork, and his love of his native surroundings. Most of all, I love his keen interest in depicting the natural world without showing a trace of what he calls "bravura":

 "There is room enough for a natural painter. The great vice of the present day is bravura, an attempt to do something beyond the truth."

(Might I add that I believe much of present day painting has the same vice?)

Constable had a scientific interest in the classification of clouds, and described his efforts at painting studies of the sky as "skying"- a beautiful term. The movement of the clouds in "Weymouth Bay" (see above) is a key element in the composition, while these three later cloud studies show an even more complete focus on the sky:

 John Constable Study of Cirrus Clouds oil on paper 10.4x 17.8 cm oil on paper c. 1821-22


 John Constable Seascape Study with Rain Cloud oil on paper 22.2 x 31.1 cm. 1827


John Constable Cloud Study at Hampstead Trees at Right oil on paper 24.1x 29.9 cm 1821



In honor of Elizabeth Wilson's passionate interest in the subject of changeable skies, for the rest of September we'll be looking at landscape paintings with a strong emphasis on the heavens. If you have an image of a painting, drawing or photograph with a focus on the sky (not your own work please) and a few thoughts you'd like to share, please email me and I'll set up a post for you.

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