The British SchoolThe Art Of Painting - The British School - 4, a brief series of articles on the art of painting and drawing
Gainsborough's later landscapes are somewhat summary, dark, and scratchy. The earlier wood scene, " Village Cornard," more Dutch in feeling, has none of these faults ; it is juicy in colour, and more solidly handled.
There are Romneys in our gallery that have their charm, but there is a flat emptiness about them. The flesh is rarely flesh for the want of greys, and his red shadows are monotonously mannered. It is hardly fair to judge him by examples that are in many respects not his best.
THE VALLEY FARM
A sparkling richness due to the use of the palette knife
Constable broke new ground ; and so strong was the prejudice against the greenness of his work that he was requested to brown his pictures in the early days. For all that, he has had more
influence on modern art than perhaps any other painter.
The " Flatford Mill," if seen alone, in spite of its hardness and lack of unity would appeal to lovers of light and nature, but by the side of his richer -and more sparkling trio, next to be mentioned, it seems tame and uninspired. Such free use of the palette knife, as in his three notable canvases (11 The Corn Field," " The Valley Farm," and " The Hay-Wain "), has always a taming effect on surrounding pictures that are painted without its aid, and, as with the craving for narcotics the doses of the reckless who are bitten with the craze, are gradually increased till the scintillations play havoc with a whole wall of neighbours. But there is a day of reckoning with these dust-traps, when all the glory is for ever departed. Constable could use his palette knife, but even with him the surfaces are sometimes a wee bit mechanical, as in the stag and tomb picture on the east wall, known as " The Cenotaph."" The Valley Farm " is finely dramatic. The accidental shadows and the concentrated light on the white house are conceived and executed with real mastery.
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