Summer School 2021 - Course 15 - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Summer School 2021 – Course 15

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Course 15

Travelling Light: Turner, Constable and the Shape of British Art

Nicola Moorby

Summer School – Online
Monday 28 June – Friday 2 July 2021

A tame, bucolic landscape of trees and a small grassy hill.

Detail of: John Constable, Landscape, with trees and a bank, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust) © The Courtauld

A wild landscape of ice and rock. Mountains are in the distance.

Detail of: JMW Turner, Mer de Glace, Chamonix, with Blair’s Hut, 1806, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust) © The Courtauld

Course description

This course will explore a fascinating aspect of British art history, the parallel careers of John Constable and J.M.W. Turner. Between them, these giants of landscape painting revolutionised the status of their genre, transforming the depiction of place through empirical experience and emotive response. However, their approaches were very different. Turner roamed throughout Britain and the Continent in search of inspirational scenery, combining observation of nature with literary and historical references. By contrast, Constable nurtured his vision at home, rooting himself in the familiar and the everyday. As well as comparing differences and similarities within their works, we shall examine the wider cultural contexts pertinent to their careers: the reproductive print market, the nineteenth–century experience of travel, and particularly the role of the Royal Academy in London, the arena where their robust professional rivalry was played out. We shall also look closely at their materials and techniques, particularly their innovations with oil paint, watercolour and their use of sketchbooks. The course culminates with a discussion of their respective artistic legacies and their changing reputations through the twentieth century and beyond.

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