John Constable
English, 1776–1837

Oil on canvas
49 5/8 x 66 1/2 in. (126 x 169 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Kimball Collection, 1922.4453

This large dramatic landscape by John Constable reveals the artist’s appreciation for rural life. Although he lived in London for many years, Constable maintained a lifelong fondness for the landscapes of the English countryside in which he spent his childhood. This painting is based upon sketches the artist made while visiting an aunt in Stoke-by-Nayland, a small farming town a few miles from his native village of Suffolk. Like many other painters of the time, Constable would first make open-air sketches at a specific site and then produce finished works in the studio. This particular painting, however, is considered unfinished.

Depicting an early summer morning, the scene features lush greenery that sparkles from the dampness of a light summer rain. Emphasis on the profusion of water reinforces the fertility of the land. Amidst the overwhelming beauty of the surroundings, the people and animals at work on this farm seem small. The rough surface is largely the result of Constable’s use of a palette knife to apply pigment, and the vigorous marks visible in the paint illustrate the excitement with which the artist composed the scene.

Although frequently associated with the Romantic movement, Constable strove to depict nature with more careful observation from life than his contemporaries. His ability to render the sense of direct experience and his bold brushwork inspired French contemporaries such as Eugène Delacroix and was an inspiration for artists of the Barbizon school and the Impressionist movement.

Jean Baptiste Camille Corot
French, 1796–1875
View of Genoa

Oil on paper mounted on canvas
11 5/8 x 16 3/8 in. (29.5 x 41.7 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1937.1017

In this small, carefully painted image, Corot captured the brilliant light of the Italian Riviera at Genoa, located on the Mediterranean Sea. Painted during his second trip to Italy in 1834, this small mountain scene gives no indication of the bustling town of Genoa, at the time the largest port on the western coast of Italy. Instead, small geometric houses sit peacefully along the gentle slopes of the Alps. His early works, such as this one, are noted for their stable compositional structures and calm, classical spirit that enhance the expression of Corot’s direct experience of the landscape, lighting, and atmosphere. It was Corot’s sensitivity to the natural environment that connected him to the French Barbizon School, although the persistence of classical tendencies lingered throughout his long career.

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