Constable's Paintings, Royal Academy of Arts, London
Constable's Paintings, Royal Academy of Arts, London

The RA has got a wonderful collection of Constables, even if it's not totally representative. For example you don't have any of the really great pictures of the 1810s which are concentrating with single-minded focus on the area around which he lived, and which he had a sort of stake if you like as a sort of property holder.

On the other hand there is this wonderful group of oil sketches and cloud studies alongside paintings such as 'The Leaping Horse', which is of major importance in his career, partly because it's extraordinarily well documented.

He talks about it being full of breezes and freshness, "lively, soothing, calm & exhilarating fresh & blowing", so that upon looking at this picture I suspect that he's hoping the optical stimulus will puts us in mind of other sensations of actually being in landscape.

It's a painting that shows his, if you like, expressionist style of painting under it's most controlled and brilliant.

And of course it's a painting that does use quite a bit of the kind of knowledge that he's been getting at Hampstead, and which we see specifically in those oil sketches, and I would guess that it's appropriate that the Royal Academy should have a collection that's predominantly the London Constable, the guy who was in the metropolis, who was making pictures within the general area of London, and who was, in such a painting again as 'The Leaping Horse', desperately attempting to impress the metropolitan exhibition-goers with evidence of his greatness, and indeed he was getting pretty good press at this time. There's always a myth that the newspapers didn't like him, and they did. It was one of those paintings that I suppose cumulatively will have meant that eventually he did become a Royal Academician.

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Royal Academy of Arts
Royal Academy of Arts
United Kingdom


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