Constable: The Making of a Master


20 September 2014 – 11 January 2015. The major exhibition Constable: The Making of Master reveals the hidden stories of how John Constable created some of his most loved and well-known paintings. On display will be such famous works as The Haywain together with the oil sketches he painted outdoors direct from nature.

These posts give you a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the exhibition, from new discoveries to the delicate conservation work needed to bring this exhibition to life.

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Making a ‘Constable’

Applying the red-brown oil ground. You can already see how the paper is absorbing the oil where there is no sizing.

  This week I’ve been working with Clare, the Senior Paintings Conservator, to make some Constable-style pasteboards (sheets of paper glued together) for a display to go in the Paintings gallery. After several weeks of reading up on it (for example in the essays referenced here), looking at examples of Constable’s works on paper, and […]

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Constable’s Country: Inspired by Suffolk Settings

Oil painting of Flatford Mill from a Lock on the Stour

Much of John Constable’s current reputation as a painter rightly rests on his development of the ‘plein-air’ oil sketch and his naturalistic style of painting. Also powerfully engaging for a contemporary audience is his autobiographical choice of subjects. In this piece, Winsor & Newton Resident Artist Mathew Gibson explores Constable’s complex personal motivations for painting […]

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Constable: The Making of an Exhibition

Technicians install 'The Hay Wain' (full-size sketch).

After months of planning, ‘Constable: The Making of a Master’ is open to the public. While bringing an exhibition of this scale together takes a lot of time and energy from people inside and outside the museum, it is only in the last two weeks before opening that objects start being moved into the space Installing this […]

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Andrew Graham Dixon opens Constable: The Making of a Master

Andrew Graham Dixon speaks at the opening of Constable: The Making of a Master

On 17th September 2014 at the launch of Constable: The Making of a Master, art critic and broadcaster Andrew Graham Dixon spoke about the painter, his radical approach, working methods and lasting legacy. Open to the public from 20 September 2014 – 11 January 2015. Constable: The Making of Master reveals the hidden stories of how […]

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Constable’s Quill

Did Constable use a steel nibbed pen? a reed, or a quill for his ink drawings? Sometimes, preparing the prints, drawings and paintings for an exhibition gives us a good opportunity to start to ponder these kinds of questions… Looking at the back of Constable’s Study of Poppies (Paintings Conservation interns, Arabella and Morgan talked about this work in our […]

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Constable sketches up close and personal

Our dynamic Paintings Conservation interns, Arabella and Morgan have been lucky enough to work on some of our Constable oil sketches this week for the upcoming Constable: Making of a Master exhibition. We’ve posted recently on our discovery of an unknown Constable sketch that was hidden by an old lining, so of course preparing the rest of the sketches for exhibition gave Arabella and Morgan another […]

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A Spring Cleaning in Paintings Conservation

This week’s guest post, written by Arabella Peaver and Morgan Wylder, describes the conservation of a painting by John Frederick Herring. With only a few weeks until the V&A’s Constable exhibition opens to the public, some of the Constable paintings normally on display in our paintings galleries will be relocated to the exhibition. This offers a great opportunity for us to have some […]

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‘for I have too much preferred the picturesque to the beautifull…’: Looking at Constable’s watercolour sketches

Whenever I’ve thought of John Constable, I’ve always thought of a long tradition, starting with Dutch landscape painters, a painter, where you could walk straight into the scene and join the horses wading through the river or sit under a bow of a tree and gaze at the view of Salisbury Cathedral.

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An Unknown Sketch by Constable

V&A Paintings Conservators Nicola Costaras and Clare Richardson have discovered a previously unknown oil sketch by John Constable in the V&A’s collection. The original sketch, ‘Branch Hill Pond, Hampstead’, had been glued to a canvas lining at some stage before it came into the V&A’s collection in 1888, completely obscuring the sketch on the other side. Suspecting that […]

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V&A experts discover a new oil sketch by John Constable

V&A experts have discovered a previously unrecorded oil sketch by John Constable. The newly discovered work was concealed beneath a lining canvas on the reverse of Branch Hill Pond: Hampstead. It will now go on public display in the Paintings Galleries. The recent discovery was made by V&A conservators Clare Richardson and Nicola Costaras while […]

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