Room 88: Gainsborough's Showbox & Constable's Oil Sketches

Gainsborough's Showbox & Constable's Oil Sketches, room 88

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.

Check the gallery closures page

Paintings you can find in this gallery:

A gift in your will

You may not have thought of including a gift to a museum in your will, but the V&A is a charity and legacies form an important source of funding for our work. It is not just the great collectors and the wealthy who leave legacies to the V&A. Legacies of all sizes, large and small, make a real difference to what we can do and your support can help ensure that future generations enjoy the V&A as much as you have.


Shop online

John Constable: Oil Sketches from the V&A

John Constable: Oil Sketches from the V&A

This exciting book presents a unique insight into Constable's working process through the V&A's unparalleled collection. It places the artist in t…

Buy now

Event - Norfolk House Music Room Concert

Sat 10 May 2014 11:00

Join musicians from the Royal College of Music as they perform in the V&A’s beautiful Norfolk House Music Room.

Book online