We found Constable in the V&A Museum

On Friday 12 January 2024, we resumed our History of Art Course of Lectures with Jennifer to guide us through the British Artists of 19th Century.

We started with the history of the V&A Museum, although Queen Victoria had planned that it would be the Albert Museum, and took some persuading for both of them to be found in the name. The museum site has an interesting history, going back to 1852 following the Great Exhibition of 1851. Jennifer had a series of slides showing how the layout of the museum had developed with various wings being replaced over the years.

With a museum dedicated to the Arts and Sciences, there are many statues of artists on the outside of the museum. One of the featured artists on the outside (as a statue) and inside (in the galleries) is John Constable RA (1776-1837).

Jennifer described how Constable, the son of a miller, took up painting, and how he developed his style and his skill, working from sketches often created on site, and then worked up in his studio.

His father had several mills, and these feature in several of his paintings. Shown below is the location of perhaps his most famous painting – The Haywain (1821) – as Constable saw it, and how it looks today.

We learned about the essential features that appear in all Constable’s landscape pictures.

Constable married Maria Bicknell, and they had 7 children during their 12 years of marriage. Sadly Maria died from TB when she was just 40 years old. We saw where the family lived in London and where they took a holiday near Hampstead Heath.

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