Monday, December 3, 2012

Constable, John

Chain Pier, Brighton
Oil on canvas
127 x 183 cm (50 x 72 in)
Purchased 1950
Tate Gallery, London, UK

Constable first went to Brighton in 1824, taking his wife Maria in an attempt to restore her failing health. He visited her there frequently in the mid-1820's and made many drawings and sketches, but this is his only large painting of a Brighton subject.

The 1820's were some of the busiest years of Brighton's development as a fashionable seaside resort. Here Constable shows the bustling life of the beach against a backdrop of Brighton's new hotels, residential quarters and the Chain Pier itself. The pier opened in 1823, shortly before Constable's first visit, but was destroyed by storm in 1896.

John Constable (1776 – 1837) was an English Romantic painter. He is known principally for his landscape paintings of the area surrounding his home which he invested with an intensity of affection. "I should paint my own places best", he wrote, "painting is but another word for feeling".
Although his paintings are now among the most popular and valuable in British art, he was never financially successful. He sold more paintings in France than in his native England.

Constable spent the summer and early autumn of 1814 in Suffolk, painting directly from nature. In this work he depicted a panoramic view over the Valley. He wanted to catch the ever changing lights and colors.
He wrote thought that `No two days are alike, nor even two hours; neither were there ever two leaves of a tree alike since the creation of the world." He wanted to catch this never-static world and he developed new techniques to represent in paint the atmospheric effects of changing light in the open air, the movement of clouds across the sky, the interplay of open air and trees.
Not long after he painted Constable wrote: ‘This charming season … occupies me entirely in the fields and I believe I have made some landscapes that are better than is usual with me – at least that is the opinion of all here‘.