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History of Art Society

Mrs Anne Lyles came to us to deliver a professional and fascinating talk about Constable and ‘The Haywain’. It was particularly useful to hear how his working processes were arranged, since this is one of the questions that the boys are likely to face in their PreU exams next month. We also very much enjoyed hearing about the range of his celebration of different aspects of English landscape and society, carefully related to the main painting. It was securely placed in the context of Constable’s career and his move from the constraints of classical compositions to the freedom of his ‘plein-air’ sketches, worked up into large ‘six-footer’ oil sketches and then finally the finished canvas, adjusting his vision at every stage. Mrs Lyles ended by demonstrating how powerful an impact the painting had on French Romantic art – indeed, ‘The Haywain’ almost ended up being bought for the Luxembourg Palace. Fortunately a generous English benefactor ensured that it was eventually presented to the National Gallery in London. J.D.H.

Date Posted: 16 May 2014
2014

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