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Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Painting of the month (7) July 2010: John Constable

Flarford Mill. John Constable 1816-7

John Constable can be 'difficult' because, although he is now acknowledged as one of the all time great landscape painters, he is sometimes described as 'too chocolate boxy'. I think he was a great painter. Look at the way he achieves depth and distance in the middle distance on the right of the picture.
With a small amount of space he has managed, by the use of sunlight on the grass and careful scaling, to give a real feeling of distance from those trees to the foreground.

He was always extremely jealous of his contemporary, JMW Turner, who, if you read this blog regularly, you will know I rate as a real genius.

But let's not get distracted John Constable is well-worthy of recognition. There was a time when landscape painting was seen as the lowest grade of art. Religious art and history painting were the highest regarded styles. If you consider a painting like Leonardo's Mona Lisa, the landscape, although finely painted, is very much background. Constable and Turner helped turn that attitude around.

15 comments:

rob said...

Thanks for the insights. I hadn't known that about the low status of landscape painting. I wonder why they thought less of it at that time and why later that changed.

Incidentally I had a rather hopeless uncle who once went to see a film called, "Constable and the English countryside". He was disappointed when there were no cops and robbers in it. I kid you not!

klahanie said...

Hi bazza,
I'm a great admirer of the works of Constable. I wouldn't mind an original of his in my house. I guess we are talking a lot of money if one of his paintings were available.
I happen to like the 'chocolate boxy' way he painted.
Cheers, bazza.

Kelly said...

I'm not familiar with his work but I can say with certainty that this is a very detailed art piece. I like it because it invokes feelings of calm inside me. And that, my friend, is always a good thing. :-)

David said...

Dear bazza,
Unfortunately I have to disagree with you on this one. While I, like you, love Turner, I'm afraid that Constable just leaves me cold. I suppose this just proves how subjective such things are.
Yours with All the Best,
David.

bazza said...

Rob: I think the age of religious art is the reason landscape was thought so unimportant. The advent of humanism with man at the centre began to change our attitude to the world we live in.

Gary: Yes, I think you would need a pretty penny to obtain an original Constable now.

Kelly: Thanks for your, always valued, input. I think if you emotionaly respond to a piece of art that's what matters.

David: Thank's for your honesty! Actually, at one time, I too felt the same about Constable but after reading about his love of the place where he lived, I began to change my mind.

Sir Tom Eagerly said...

Hello Bazza old boy, I'm back! Please try to contain your excitement.
I see you're still at it then, Bazza you old queen. I mean, all this art stuff. Bit gay isn't it?

bazza said...

Ah Sir Tom! What have you done - escaped from custody? Still as provocative as ever I see.

Kelly said...

Yeah, I tend to base my painting buying, when that happens rarely, on not how detailed it is or the subject matter, but how it makes me feel when I look at it. If you're going to have something around your home, hanging on one of your walls for years to come, you want the painting to have real meaning to you. Make any sense?

@ Sir Tom... Well, howdy doo, Sir Tom. We've been missing you. Where have you been? Gary, over at Klahanie, has been worried sick.

Sit Tom Eagerly said...

Kelly! How nice of you and Klahanie (and Bazza) to care. I got out early for good behaviour!
I will definitely be visiting all my fans very soon.

klahanie said...

Hi bazza,
Just wanted to let you know how delighted I am that Tom Eagerley or Tom Eagerly or Sir Tom Eagerley or Sir Tom Eagerly or whatever, has graced you, once more, with his witty intelligence. Can life get any better than this? Well, of course not, old chap.

bazza said...

Gary: Yes, I am waiting with a mixture of anticipation and fear!
He's a real mystery man but I think, on balance, I would have him around than not!

bazza said...

Gary: PS, I like the wanted-poster look in the photo you're using now.

klahanie said...

Thanks bazza. It's always nice to feel 'wanted' :-)

Mr. Stupid said...

I enjoy art. Though, I have never read about painters in particular. That's a beautiful piece of work.

bazza said...

Mr. Stupid: Enjoying art is the main thing. I did Art History as part of my degree and I find it rewarding to look a little deeper into paintings. You stick with Uncle Bazza and I'll show you how to appreciate art!