M. Stephen Doherty

M. Stephen Doherty
The editor of Plein Air magazine at work

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Great British Paintings

Departure of the Bucintoro, by Sir Frank William Brangwyn (1867-1956), ca. 1910, oil. Collection the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut.
Detail of Departure of the Bucintoro showing the thick application of oils in depicting the departure of the ceremonial vessel in Venice, Italy.

Plein air cloud study by Constable (1820)

Plein air cloud study by Constable (1820)
I thought I would offer a brief report on some of the remarkable paintings I discovered at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut.
If you love luscious, thick applications of oil color, you might want to check out the Belgian-born British artist Sir Frank William Brangwyn (1867-1956). His spectacular painting of the departure of the Bucintoro, a state vessel used in ceremonies in Venice, Italy, is an amazing display of swirling paint that coalesces into a scene in deep space.
I'm not a huge fan of Constables dark, muddy landscapes but I was pleasantly surprised to find a wonderful collection of plein air oil sketches of clouds and atmospheric landscapes. The pictures were done in 1820 -- a few years before Corot went to Italy to paint -- and are relatively small works on paper mounted to board (about 9" x 12").

1 comment:

  1. Steve,

    Thanks for the post- I can't recall ever having seen an image of a Brangwyn and it is a pretty strong painting.

    Constable's cloud studies were a revelation to me when I attended Indiana University for my MFA in painting back in 1970-72.. One of the art historians there, Louis Hawes had written his Ph.D. thesis on just that side of Constable's work and showed lots of examples whenever he could to his classes. I had had no idea such things existed so early on in the 19th century.

    I agree with your assessment of some of Constable's big oils as sometimes too murky, but he can sometimes do some very excellent work. An important transitional figure in the history of landscape painting.

    Louis Hawes, incidentally, organized a big show of Hudson River School painting at IU Art Museum that all by itself persuaded me to turn from painting surrealist themes to observational landscapes. Sometimes art historians play a big role in influencing artists just coming up.