Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Making of British Landscape?

These are the last few days to see Constable, Gainsborough, Turner and the Making of Landscape at the Royal Academy of Arts. This exhibition closes on the 17 February, so this is the last chance to view artworks from the Academy's collection that have never before been shown together publicly.

The old British masters included in the show do not require any further fanfare than their names themselves. Which is just as well given that the RA only has a portable sign re-directing visitors to the nondescript untitled entrance and then they take us through the first few rooms before getting to see any of their work.

The first room explores the influence that the British school of landscape painting has had on contemporary artists before the next room jumps back to the 18th Century. This arguably could have been better displayed at the end of the exhibition?

Before entering Room 4 I found myself still hungry for more Constable's, Gainsborough's and Turner's, although there is this beautiful nautical scene (engraved after the latter) by Robert Wallis (below):

Cowes, Isle of Wight (engraving) (1830), (after JMW Turner) Robert Wallis (1794 - 1878).
In Constable's A Boat Passing a Lock (1826) (below) there's the atmospheric charge of an inevitable incoming storm created by the effects of the light and clouds in the sky:


A Boat Passing a Lock (oil on canvas) (1826), John Constable (1776 - 1837).
David Lucas aguably finds this difficult to replicate in his nevertheless outstanding mezzotint version of 1834 (below): 

The Lock (mezzotint) (1834), (after J Constable) David Lucas (1802–1881).
This exhibition includes some beautifully detailed prints and paintings, but I cant help thinking that other visitors who are fans of Constable, Gainsborough and Turner will also be disappointed to see that there are not a higher percentage of artworks displayed by the three headlining artists.

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