Friday, February 3, 2012




I thought it appropriate to discuss two of my favourite landscape painters, after my last two postings ‘A Tribute to Van Gogh’ and ‘Appreciation of Art”. Both contemporaries, and were British, and both great landscape artists with different styles and approach. They both were exponents of Romanticism, an artistic movement of the late 1700s to mid-1800s that emphasized an emotional response to nature. I am referring to Turner and Constable.

Joseph Mallard William Turner (1775-1851) and John Constable (1776-1837), though both are referred to as exact contemporaries, their approach to depicting nature deferred. While Turner sought to capture emotion, perpetually aiming to be extraordinary, Constable sought to capture the grass, the skies, and the British countryside as it was, with its farms churches and bridges as they were. Turner was referred to as the Philosopher while Constable was the scientist.

When we talk of a landscape, we always visualize the blue skies, green pastures, a lake dotted with small cottages all around, with snow capped mountains in the background. We see the lighting, the shades and the serenity.

To the Romantics, landscape painting meant, a scene was a potential subject, a source for creation of an art work. “The Romantic landscape painters did not seek to control nature, they sought to capture the fascinating, ever-changing and unpredictable moods of it through scale and treatment of space, brushstroke and new relations of color to tone.The Romantic landscape painter often sought to capture the sublime, with a strong emphasis on sensation ”.

When we look at the paintings of Turner and Constable, we are struck by the different feelings they evoke within us. While we feel the overwhelming power of Turner’s paintings, the paintings of Constable convey tranquillity and calm. Both of them great creators. The difference in approaches may also be due to their backgrounds.

Constable’s background belonging to the farming community and the surroundings of the countryside in which he was brought up has had a profound influence on his paintings. While Turner was affected by a bout of depression and travelled extensively. In most of his paintings one can sense his love for the sea.

Both painters represented the Sublime in its various aspects, Turner the powerful and overwhelming and Constable the tranquility and calm. Both looking for the truth and depicting it in their own way.

Turner can be considered as the forerunner of the latter day movements of Impressionism and Expressionism

If we look at the impressionistic painters such as Claude Monet we see the effect of Turner in the way they depicted nature. But you find their tones are much softer but the similarity in style can be seen. The powerful and overwhelming nature of Turner, can be seen in the expressionists like Van Gogh

The purpose of this posting is to pay a tribute to these great painters. I can only pen down the effect their works had on me. Every time I look at their paintings it is with awe. I have posted some of their paintings here just to enhance the effect of what to say, as actual words fail me.

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