John Constable. The making of a master


Criticized in his lifetime for his rough handling of paint, John Constable’s (1776–1837) paintings have long defined the idea of the English countryside, its geography fully captured by his remarkable naturalism. His “vivid and timeless” oil sketches, as he called them, have been celebrated since the 1890s as precur­sors of Impressionism, Modernism, and photogra­phy. This major book reconciles the two defining aspects of Constable’s work—his revolutionary painting techniques and his reverence for the old masters. Where other artists competed with the masters, Constable assimilated their ideas and values to imbue his own naturalistic vision with dynamism. This seeming incompatibility, placed in the context of the artist’s wider practice, helps delineate why Constable remains such a powerful influence on contemporary artists.