Room 88: Gainsborough's Showbox & Constable's Oil Sketches
The Edwin and Susan Davies Galleries
This room features the oil sketches of John Constable as well as Thomas Gainsborough's unique 'showbox'. Thirty of Constable's oil sketches given to the V&A by Isabel Constable are exhibited here. In the early 1800s, many painters such as Constable, sought to capture subtle effects of light and atmosphere by making small-scale oil sketches out of doors. In the 1780s Thomas Gainsborough painted a series of landscapes in oils on glass, which were viewed in a specially constructed 'showbox' which was described in this way: 'The machine consists of a number of glass planes, which are moveable…chiefly landscapes. They are lighted…at the back, and are viewed through a magnifying lens, by which means the effect produced is truly captivating.'
Room 88 is on Level 3 of the V&A South Kensington.