Australia and Constable


Detail: John Constable 'A boat passing a lock' 1826, oil on canvas, Collection of the Royal Academy of Arts, London © Royal Academy of Arts, London 1996. Photographer: Prudence Cuming Associates

detail: Kenneth MacQueen Summer sky c.1935 watercolour, pencil, Collection of the National Gallery of Australia more detail

The landscape painter has to realise that [the sky] is not something secondary, like a backdrop, but that it is above you, at the sides of you, and all around.

Thus wrote the prominent landscape artist, Hans Heysen, a great admirer of Constable’s work who, like Constable, was aware of the expressive significance of the sky and its ability to dictate the mood of a landscape.

Such is the power of Constable’s art that it has inspired a range of Australian artists: Heysen, Conrad Martens, Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Howard Taylor, Philip Wolfhagen, Kenneth MacQueen and Lesley Duxbury, among others. It is for this reason that in Australia we are presenting a second exhibition alongside Constable: impressions of land, sea and sky, called Australia and Constable, which will include examples of the works of some of these Australian artists, and one New Zealand artist, Toss Woollaston.

Among the most recent of the works in the exhibition are those by Lesley Duxbury, who has looked to Constable for inspiration in a series of paintings and prints. In her Untitled 2003 series, she painted on paper on canvas because this was a method Constable used, not only with his Hampstead cloud studies but also in other paintings. Like her contemporary Philip Wolfhagen, she has been interested in depicting the movement of clouds as indicators of passing time.

The works in this exhibition show that Constable’s art has continued to inspire artists – and viewers – into the present day.

Anne Gray
Assistant Director, Australian Art

Go to Constable impressions of land, sea and sky information