Saturday, October 26, 2013

Turner and Constable: Sketching from Nature Works from the Tate Collection

This autumn (5 October 2013 – 5 January 2014) Turner Contemporary presents its first historical exhibition since the blockbuster Turner and the Elements with a major showcase of works by JMW Turner, John Constable and their contemporaries. Bringing together 75 paintings from the Tate collection, the exhibition, organised by Compton Verney, explores the practice of oil sketching in the landscape in the fullest presentation of oil sketches from the Tate Collection to date. This approach to oil painting became increasingly fashionable during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. These rarely shown works, radical for their time, demonstrate artists’ efforts to reflect direct experience of their environment, rather than a concern for careful composition.

The exhibition is organised around six principal landscape themes, reflecting interests and subjects common to artists of the period: sketching from nature; the city; the picturesque; the Thames, rivers and coasts; and rural nature. These themes are explored in the works of JMW Turner and John Constable as well as George Stubbs and John Sell Cotman, among others. Organised by Compton Verney in Warwickshire, the exhibition is curated by Michael Rosenthal, Emeritus Professor of Art History, University of Warwick, one of the world’s foremost experts on the art of this period, and Anne Lyles, a leading authority on the art of John Constable.

The exhibition gives an insight into the different approach each artist used for oil sketching, illustrating how different artists approached similar subjects – at a time when oil sketching en plein air was still comparatively unusual.

The result is an exhibition which introduces visitors to the practice and techniques of sketching, and the often surprising connections that can be drawn between the artists involved. These stimulating comparisons prompt questions about the importance of oil sketching in this period and how finished works were planned, evolved and executed. The oil paintings have been chosen by the curators to represent six principal landscape themes: sketching from nature, the closer view, water, shapes and silhouettes, the shapes of landscape, rural nature, looking heavenwards. These themes are explored through the works of Turner and Constable alongside artists such as George Stubbs, John Linnell, William Henry Hunt, John Sell Cotman, John Crome, Francis Danby, Thomas Jones, George Robert Lewis and Augustus Wall Callcott.

The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated book, produced by Tate Publishing.

After being shown at Compton Verney, 13 July 2013 to 22 September 2013, Turner and Constable will be toured to Turner Contemporary in Margate (October 2013 - January 2014) and the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle (January - May 2014).

Images from the Turner and Constable: Sketching from Nature Exhibition:

JMW Turner, View of Richmond Hill and Bridge, exhibited 1808, Oil paint on canvas, support: 914 x 1219 mm, © Tate, London 2013

JMW Turner, Godalming from the South, 1805, Oil paint on mahogany veneer mounted onto cedar panel, support: 203 x 349 mm, © Tate, London 2013

John Crome, Moonrise on the Yare (?), c.1811-16, Oil paint on canvas, support: 711 x 1111 mm, © Tate, London 2013

John Constable, Malvern Hall, Warwickshire, 1809, Oil paint on canvas, 514 x 768 mm, © Tate, London 2013

JMW Turner, The Thames near Walton Bridges, 1805, Oil paint on mahogany veneer, support: 371 x 737 mm, © Tate, London 2013

John Sell Cotman, Seashore with Boats, c.1808, Oil paint on board, 283 x 410 mm, © Tate, London 2013

John Constable, Cloud Study, 1822, Oil paint on paper on board, support: 476 x 575 mm, © Tate, London 2013

Thomas Jones, Mount Vesuvius from Torre dell'Annunziata near Naples, 1783, Oil paint on paper on canvas, support: 381 x 552 mm, © Tate, London 2013

George Stubbs, Newmarket Heath, with a Rubbing-Down House, c.1765, Oil paint on canvas, support: 302 x 419 mm, © Tate, London 2013

William Henry Brooke, Lanherne Bay near the Nunnery, Cornwall, 1819, Watercolour on paper, support: 146 x 190 mm, © Tate, London 2013

John Constable, Dedham from near Gun Hill, Langham, c.1815, Oil paint on paper laid on canvas, 251 x 305 mm © Tate, London 2013

John Constable, The Sea near Brighton, 1826, Oil on paper laid on card, support: 175 x 238 mm, © Tate, London 2013