One of Britain’s best-loved artists had a radical side. In this exhibition, discover the free and expressive brushwork that came to define Constable’s late career.
John Constable is one of Britain’s best-known artists: a graduate of the RA Schools and a regular exhibitor at the Summer Exhibition, his ascent to fame is closely tied with the history of the RA. Yet, until now, the RA has never staged a major retrospective of his work.
This exhibition – which spans from 1825 until the artist’s unexpected death in 1837 – explores Constable’s late style through his paintings and oil sketches as well as watercolours, drawings and prints.
These 12 years are characterised by expressive brushwork, first developed in his plein air oil sketches from nature, as well as his full-size preparatory sketches. He also turned to watercolour with an enthusiasm missing since the early 1800s, and some of his late drawings show the same freedom of expression as his paintings from the same period.
Constable also explored the possibilities of printmaking, working on a series of mezzotints designed to promote his use of light and shade, which had become a powerful vehicle of expression in his later work.
This chapter in Constable’s career had an important impact on the next generation of painters, heralding the beginning of important movements in the late 19th century.
This exhibition brings together majestic oil paintings and plein air sketches of the British countryside, from Hampstead Heath and Stonehenge to Brighton seafront, as well as studies of weather phenomena capturing ethereal cloud formations, dramatic storms, dappled sunlight and rainbows.