The Art of Seeing Nature: The Oil Sketches of John Constable
The oil sketches of John Constable (1776-1837) vividly express his aspiration to 'give... a lasting and sober existence' to 'one brief moment caught from fleeting time'.
Thanks to a major gift of Constable's work by his daughter Isabel in 1888, and generous gifts from other donors, the V&A has an unrivalled collection of the artist's work.
This display of 49 oil sketches traces the development of his style from early studies of the 'Constable Country' of Suffolk and Essex to his atmospheric views of Hampstead, Brighton and Salisbury, rapidly painted in the open air, and closes with highly expressive late works.
Recent cleaning of Constable’s full-size oil sketches for The Hay Wain and The Leaping Horse (displayed nearby in Room 87) has revealed their original colours and tonalities. This display celebrates this conservation programme and supplements the permanent display of the artist’s work at the V&A.
Constable’s oil sketches present a unique insight into his artistic practice, and demonstrate his enduring power.