HumanitiesWeb.org - The Fleeting Visions of John Constable [Quotations]
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26 June, 2013

John Constable
Quotations



"The good sense of Poussin, which was equal to his genius, taught him that by simplicity of treatment, the most awful subjects may be made far more affecting than by overloading them with imagery."
- Intro to his Lecture 1 to the Royal Institution of Great Britain, 26 May 1836

"Painting is a science, and should be pursued as an enquiry into the laws of nature. Why, then, should not landscape painting be considered as a branch of natural philosophy, of which pictures are but the experiments?"
 
"For the last two years I have been running around after pictures, and seeking the truth at second hand. I have not endeavoured to represent nature with the same elation of mind with which I set out, but have rather tried to make my performance look like the work of other men." ... "There is room enough for a natural painture. The great vice of the present day is bravura, an attempt to do something beyond the truth. Fashion always had, and will have, its day; but truth in all things only will last, and can only have just claims on posterity."
- letter to John Dunthorne, Sr., 29 May 1802
 
"The good sense of Poussin, which was equal to his genius, taught him that by simplicity of treatment, the most awful subjects may be made far more affecting than by overloading them with imagery."
- Intro to his Lecture 1 to the Royal Institution of Great Britain, 26 May 1836
 
"...I am anxious that the world should be inclined to look to painters for information on painting. I hope to show that ours is a regularly taught profession; that it is scientific as well as poetic; that imagination alone never did, and never can, produce works that are to stand by a comparison with realities; and to show, by tracing the connecting links in the history of landscape painting, that no great painter was ever self-taught."
- From his Lecture 3, 9 June 1836
 
"The first impression and a natural one is, that the fine arts have risen or declined in proportion as patronage has been given to them or withdrawn, but it will be found that there has often been more money lavished on them in their worst periods than in their best, and that the highest honours have frequently been bestowed on artists whose names are scarcely now known."
- From his Lecture to the Literary and Scientific Institution at Hampstead, 25 July 1836
 
"Landscape was afterwards still farther debased by Vernet, Hakert, Jacob Moor and the English Wootton, the last of whom, without manual dexterity, left it in unredeemed poverty and coarseness… Then, with Wilson and Gainsborough, the high and genuine qualities of landscape appeared in England at a time when they were utterly unknown in any other part of the world."
 
"The sound of water escaping from mill dams, willows, old rotten planks, slimy posts and brick-work, I love such things. These scenes made me a painter."
 
"Painting is for me but another word for feeling."
 
"The sky is the source of light in Nature and it governs everything. "
 
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