Friday, 31 August 2007

Constable and Turner at V&A

In the end it took me two visits to the V&A to find the paintings I was looking for. On the first day I, mistakenly, thought there would be late opening, so just as I finally found the two galleries with Constable's oil sketches and Turner and Constable's landscapes, the museum was closing - I wonder if that had anything to do with my endless browsing through the museum shop beforehand ;)

Yesterday, however, before I went back home and made sure I would get to look at the sketches.
Having posted one of Constable's cloud studies in the earlier post, I was curious to see with my own eyes and try to find out more about this clouds/sky studies. Much of the sketches were donated to the museum by his daughter in the 1880s and give rich insights into his working and study practices. They are often painted on paper/card and he kept these as reference material for his larger paintings.

As for record keeping, these were the additional notes Constable wrote on the back of the cloud study #82:
'Looking S.E. noon. Wind very brisk. & effect bright & fresh. Clouds moving very fast. With occasional very bright openings to the blue' Dated Sept. 5. 1822

I'm interested and intrigued how such studies - of which Constable said, according to the museum notes, to have completed over 50 reasonably large ones by October 1822 - are becoming part of ones working repertoire - the one when one knows how to present and represent a cloudy but fresh evening sky in summer. It reminds me also of how my life drawing tutor - with a keen focus on human anatomy - stressed again and again that observation is just one part, the other part is knowing and understanding anatomy.

With all this talk of working knowledge, reflexivity and experience, my geography friends will laugh - it is plain clear that I've just been to a conference and my head is full of academia talk. But, hey, isn't it nice to be able to make those connections? More to follow, I suppose.

Here, for some exploration of the gallery if you aren't in London is the V&A website who offers a rich resource and also some virtual tours through its various room:

Constable's oil sketches in room 88
The sketches are mainly on the left hand side and you can zoom in close to look at them

Turner and Constable's landscapes in room 87
Three of Turner's seascapes are on the left here, with Constables landscape paintings to the right

The virtual tour uses Quicktime software to allow you to move around and zoom in - it works pretty well.

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