Constable in Haarlem
July 15, 2020
Torrential rain pounding the sea, sunbeams emerging from a turbulent cloudy sky, rolling green hills with trees rustling in the wind. British artist John Constable (1776-1837) is one of the greatest landscape painters of all time. From 19 September 2020 to 31 January 2021, Teylers Museum presents the first retrospective exhibition in the Netherlands of this master of Romanticism. A beautiful array of drawings, watercolours and paintings will be transported to the Netherlands from Canada, London and Oxford. In Haarlem you will be able to lose yourself in the overwhelming English landscapes of John Constable.
‘Painting is but another word for feeling’ Constable's favourite subject was the landscape of his youth on the east coast of England near Harwich. No artist had ever painted as much outdoors as he would. Greatly inspired by the way in which the Old Masters such as Ruisdael, Rembrandt and Rubens had depicted the Dutch landscape, he approached the English landscape with an original and open gaze. This enabled him to catch the effect of sudden weather changes. Constable was fascinated by the colours and shapes of clouds, rainbows, and other atmospheric phenomena and kept meticulous records of the weather and light conditions in which he had painted.
His sharp observation of nature concealed a tempestuous emotional life. Happiness and sorrow, love and friendship were translated into light, air, and landscape. ‘Painting is but another word for feeling’, he wrote to a friend. His style was so innovative that for a long time contemporaries were baffled by it. His work became a source of inspiration for many artists, from the Barbizon School and French Impressionists to those working today. He is seen as one of the fathers of modern painting.
Constable at Teylers Museum Teylers Museum is the perfect place to introduce the Dutch public to Constable’s genius. Had he visited Haarlem, he would certainly have come to Teylers Museum to see the paintings by his Dutch contemporaries and the drawings and prints by his great Dutch examples. In the First Picture Gallery, the visitor is taken back to the Netherlands as it was in Constable’s day. In the Print Room, a separate part of the exhibition is specially devoted to the influence of the Old Masters on his work. Since 2018, the museum has also owned seven drawings by Constable, the first works by this landscape painter in a Dutch museum collection.