Thursday, February 16, 2012

Amusing story about Turner and Constable

A Boat and Red Buoy in Rough Sea, Turner 1830
(I'm guessing this is the correct painting, it is the closest to the description that I can find.)

 'Constable was one artist who had had the misfortune to have his work hung next to Turner's. C.R. Leslie, in Autobiographical Recollections, relates a story that has made art history:

   "In 1832, when Constable exhibited his Opening of Waterloo Bridge, it was placed in the school of painting... A sea-piece, by Turner was next to it - a grey picture, beautiful and true, but with no positive colour in any part of it. Constable's Waterloo seemed as if appointed with liquid gold and silver, and Turner came several times into the room while he was heightening with vermilion and lake the decorations and flags of the city barges. Turner stood behind him, looking from the Waterloo to his own picture and at last brought his palette from the great room where he was touching another picture and putting a round daub of red lead, somewhat bigger than a shilling, on his grey sea, went away without saying a word. The intensity of the read lead, made more vivid by the coolness of his picture, caused even the vermilion and lake of Constable to look weak... 'He has been here,' said Constable, 'and fired a gun'.. The great man did not come again into the room for a day and a half; and then in the last moments that week allowed for painting, he glazed the scarlet seal he had put on his picture, and shaped it into a buoy."'

The Opening of Waterloo Bridge by Constable 1832 Oil on canvass. Tate Museum

*Quoted from Turner by K. E. Sullivan p.60

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