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Constable in London

John Constable, Rainstorm over the Sea, 1824-28, Royal Academy of ArtYesterday Andrew Motion published an article in The Guardian on The Secret Constable, in advance of the opening of new painting galleries of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which owns a collection of paintings by John Constable donated by the painter's daughter and another collector, John Sheepshank. (Here is the museum's press release on the event this Wednesday.) I'm not having much luck finding images of the museum's collection on its Web site, but Motion mentions some of the paintings that will be in the new galleries: Cottage in a Cornfield, Watermeadows near Salisbury, and The Cornfield; very interesting indeed are the 22 oil sketches that will be displayed, among the things that Constable's daughter inherited from his studio at the time of her father's death. This is a fine article by Andrew Motion, a writer whom I admire especially for his biography of one of my favorite poets, Philip Larkin, called A Writer's Life (1994). He met Larkin while teaching at the University of Hull, where Larkin was a librarian. Motion was named Poet Laureate in 1999, and he really embarrassed himself this summer by writing a rap poem for Prince William's 21st birthday. Not to worry: not even Tennyson could always write good official poetry as Poet Laureate.

Another article by Louise Jury and Vincent Graff in The Independent (November 24, New Gallery to House Royal Academy's Hidden Masterpieces) relates that 18 paintings of Constable, hitherto not on public view, will be shown in the Fine Rooms of the Royal Academy of Arts, along with many other works given to the Royal Academy by new members when they were received. The Constable works include The Leaping Horse (1824–25), and you can look at the other Constables in the Royal Academy collection, as well as just about anything else they have, through their excellent Web site. (Take a look at the larger image of Constable's Rainstorm over the Sea, 1824-28, which is a stunningly beautiful painting, shown above.)

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