Constable: The Great Landscapes

In 1819 Constable was a newly married man settled in London and harbouring great ambitions to become elected as an associate of the Royal Academy. In this year he produced The White Horse , the first in a series of six large-scale canvases painted between 1819 and 1825, featuring the river Stour. This conscious decision to create works that by their very size attracted attention when exhibited, but also reflected a more classical style, marked a turning-point in Constable's career. This study concentrates on these remarkable works, which are almost entirely responsible for his present-day status as one of Britain's best-loved artists. Bringing together for the first time these large-scale masterpieces, Constable: The Great Landscapes examines the artist's development of a single thematic concept, the life of the Suffolk river he had known since boyhood, gradually investing it with greater degrees of drama, heroic action and narrative weight. For the first time, each work is shown beside its full-scale compositional sketch, allowing a new understanding and appreciation of Constable's artistic process. These incredibly time-consuming sketches were an innovative tool used by Constable primarily to aid his move from working outdoors to the studio and yet, interestingly, they were a working practice that he maintained to the end of his career.