Really, a most wonderful exhibition

Posted by Tory Historian Monday, May 25, 2009 , ,

Tory Historian cannot praise highly enough the current exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, Constable Portraits - the Painter and his Circle. Despite several tragic tales behind the portraits, it is a happy exhibition because of the light in the pictures and in the sitters.

Constable is the compleat English painter. His landscapes seem to be England and many a person who had never seen the country arrived here convinced that everything will look like those pictures of Suffolk or Hampstead. Strangely enough, there is some truth in that. Though much has changed, the essential landscapes are still there.

The portraits, too, present a gallery of English faces - fine-featured and blunt, shrewd and innocent. A particular form of entertainment for those who manage to get to the exhibition is to try to pick some of the portraits for characters in the novels of Jane Austen, Constable's contemporary.

The artist's sisters can fit several heroines, as Miss Austen liked writing about sisters. The young man, Dr Herbert Evans, Constable's family doctor, on the other hand, has a distinct air of Mr Darcy about him, despite the class difference between them. Would Mr Darcy have liked being compared to a mere physician?


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