CELEBRATING BRITAIN: TURNER AND CONSTABLE ON RICHARD GREEN’S STAND AT MASTERPIECE
The British genius for celebrating nature and landscape in painting is the focus of Richard Green’s stand at Masterpiece, with works by John Constable, JMW Turner, John Atkinson Grimshaw, Sir Alfred Munnings, Cedric Morris, Christopher Wood and Ivon Hitchens.
Four major watercolours by JMW Turner span the years 1817 to 1833. Executed to be engraved for the topographical market, they respond to the pride in Britain’s landscape, history and economy in the years following the victory at Waterloo. Turner encapsulates an acute sense of place, sensitivity to weather conditions and a sympathetic eye for the human inhabitants, forging images of breathtaking power and complexity. In Kirkby Lonsdale churchyard, Westmorland, c.1817-18, Turner adopts a viewpoint over the beautiful Lune Valley praised by Wordsworth in his Guide to the Lakes. Whitstable oyster beds, Kent, c.1824-5, captures the moisture-laden sparkle of the Kent coastline, an area which had fascinated Turner since childhood, and where in later life he lived a happy life of ‘secret domesticity’ with Mrs Booth at Margate.
Chatham, Kent, 1831, painted sixteen years after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, salutes the part that the armed forces had played in shaping Britain. Arundel Castle and town, Sussex, 1832-3, showing a rainstorm sweeping across the magnificent medieval home of the Dukes of Norfolk, conjures up the nation’s venerable history and mercurial climate.
Whereas Turner travelled widely throughout Britain and Europe, John Constable was most deeply inspired by the familiar and the personal. His dazzling oil sketch Flatford Lock on the Stour looking towards Bridge Cottage, c.1812, depicts the Suffolk river which drove his father’s watermill. This study for his 1813 Royal Academy exhibit, Landscape: boys fishing, shows Constable working en plein air, capturing with emotional directness the freshness of a summer’s day.
Equally personal in response is the crystalline clarity of John Atkinson Grimshaw’s Beechwood, 1867, still with traces of his early Pre-Raphaelite allegiance in its grasp of the minutiae of nature. Sir Alfred Munnings’s Dunkery Beacon from Selworthy, Exmoor, c.1940, painted during Munnings’s Wartime exile from his main home in Essex, reflects the freedom and fluency with which Munnings turned to landscape painting, a release from the pressures of his success as Society equestrian portraitist.
Another East Anglian-based artist, Sir Cedric Lockwood Morris, was renowned as a gardener and plantsman, and celebrated as one of the most original flower painters of the twentieth century. Wild flowers, painted in Languedoc, southern France in 1923, is a heady swirl of colour, its rich impasto conveying Morris’s fierce joy in the shapes and variety of the natural world.
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John Constable Flatford Lock on the Stour looking towards Bridge Cottage
England’s Eye Witness – Four Watercolours by JMW Turner
Thursday, 29 June, 2017 -
Wednesday, 5 July, 2017