We will be taking some exciting recent acquisitions to Maastricht this year. Thrillingly we have brought together oils by JMW Turner and John Constable which offer a powerful story about the development of European landscape painting in the first decades of the nineteenth century.
One of our highlights will be Turner’s ravishing oil of Bonneville which was he painted following his first trip to the Continent in 1802. Commissioned by Turner’s great patron, Walter Fawkes and unusually painted on panel, the evocative landscape is preserved in outstanding condition. The brief cessation of fighting between Britain and France in March 1802 allowed Turner to visit the Continent for the first time. The trip afforded Turner the opportunity of experiencing new types of terrain, most importantly the Alps. Turner filled eleven sketchbooks with studies during his trip, making numerous watercolour sketches of the town of Bonneville, close to Geneva. Bonneville was a non-descript settlement, but it offered Turner his first view of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps and as a result a wholly new form of landscape. Painted in London this exceptional painting belongs to a key moment in his career, Turner had recently been elected a Royal Academician and he was rapidly becoming the most successful professional landscape painter in Britain. In his view of Bonneville, with its shimmering, limpid light and vaporous recession of the distant mountains, Turner neatly communicates, in oil, all the qualities of his finest watercolours of this date. Oils by Turner are increasingly rare on the market and this example is one of the best preserved and best documented examples from a key moment in his career.
As a dramatic contrast, we are excited to be showing one of John Constable’s cloud studies. The cloud studies are regarded as some of the most immediate and compelling works of art made during the nineteenth century: this little-known example is one of the boldest, most dramatic and largest of the cloud studies to survive. Made in Hampstead in 1822, this expansive and technically innovative work fits into a key moment in Constable’s development when he was working on his large-scale landscape paintings, in which the skies formed the ‘key note, the standard of scale and the chief organ of sentiment.’ Having started as a means of enriching his landscape paintings however, Constable's study of the sky became for him both a subject of scientific curiosity and an emotional obsession. In this study the sky is being swept along at great speed; dark blue and grey storm clouds, driven by a strong westerly breeze, threaten to engulf the billowing 'cumulus congestus' clouds and in turn the sun-filled sky beyond, while sheets of rain fall in strong diagonals from below the clouds. The energy of the brushwork conveys the speed of execution, as Constable hastens to record this transient effect. The overt (arc-shaped) scuff to the surface upper left may in fact have been caused by the artist as he hurried to pack his brushes and escape the ensuing rain. Constable noted on a study of 3 September 1821 'very sultry, with large drops of rain falling on my palette.'
Come and see them at Maastricht which opens next week.
Thu, Mar 5, 2020
11am – 7pm Early Access Day (invite only)
Fri, Mar 6, 2020
11am – 7pm Preview Day (invite only)
Sat, Mar 7 - Mar 14, 2020
11am – 7pm (General Admission)
Sun, Mar 15 2020
11am – 6pm (General Admission)