John Constable (1776-1837) is well-known for his depictions of clouds at different times of day and year. The first scientific papers on the subject were published around this time and Constable studied them closely. Annotating his works with times of days and speed of breeze, his paintings are so accurate that meteorologists of today can work out the weather patterns and conditions of Constable’s time.
Guinness’s plein air studies, often painted from the same vantage points as Constable’s, are strikingly poetic and evocative. Observed variously from trains, from Malin Head (the most westerly point in Donegal), from Hampstead Heath and above all from the artist’s studio hut in Ireland, the exhibition will comprise around a hundred oil paintings following in this Romantic tradition.
“The concept for this exhibition started when I was asked to give a lecture on John Constable and his connections with Hampstead Heath. After a lifetime’s interest in Constable and his oil studies at the V&A and Tate, I decided I would paint en plein air the exact same views as Constable had painted. I became totally immersed in his approach to observing landscape, in particular his ‘skying’ (as he called it), reading, looking and thinking about Constable, through the letters and lectures that were compiled by his great friend C.R Leslie. He wrote that it was the sky that illuminated everything and created the moods of nature, the moods he depicted with such genius.
I have been following in his footsteps as best I could and have been looking up at the heavens for months, learning the names of the clouds and trying to understand the ever-changing world above my head.
Days of gazing in wonderment, watching the trees on the lake, the shadows, reflections, refractions, have all been filling me with more wonder and understanding of what Constable and Wordsworth were trying to express. They so longed for us to share in these free gifts of nature, which is what I am trying to achieve with my paintings.”
Lindy Guinness, February 2019