written by Jonathan Clarkson
Phaidon Press | ISBN 9780714842950
Hardback – 240 pages
Member’s price: $85.50
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This lavishly illustrated monograph of the great British landscapist John Constable (1776-1837) presents a definitive survey of the painter's life and works. Jonathan Clarkson offers a comprehensive assessment of Constable's oeuvre, from his earliest line drawings to his last masterpieces, including pencil drawings, quick outdoor oil sketches, painstakingly worked studio canvases, and less well-known portraits.
Set against the rapidly changing way of life in nineteenth-century Britain, Constable's paintings are both portraits of a disappearing world and reflections of his belief that 'painting is a science, and should be pursued as an inquiry into the laws of nature.' Since his death, Constable has been condemned for presenting a willfully inauthentic vision of the early nineteenth-century English countryside, which was ravaged by unemployment, crime, and intense poverty in the years following the Napoleonic wars. However, his importance for Realism and for painting as a practice in itself cannot be underestimated. Clarkson draws attention to Constable's direct influence on landscape painters as well as figurative artists from his own time to the present, citing examples such as Lucien Freud and Frank Auerbach.