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Fresh appeal of art giants; A major exhibition offering fresh insight into the outdoor working styles of Turner and Constable is set to take your breath away, says Barbara Hodgson ART.

Byline: Barbara Hodgson

IT was a defining moment. After years of being cooped up in their studios, bent over large, cumbersome canvases, artists started to take their work outdoors - and the results were dramatic.

Drawing and painting landscapes in the open air, with natural light around them, not to mention the full range of the elements, was to prove a turning point for many and it opened up a new woSS rld of possibilities.

For the French impressionists, the fluid, spontaneous nature of working "en plein air" characterised their style, and transportable easels and the advent in the 1800s of paint in tubes, which meant no more grinding and mixing of powder and oil, was a freedom eagerly embraced.

While outdoors painting was the done thing by the latter part of the 19th Century in the famous Newlyn School on the south coast, in the early part of that century, and late 18th, the practice of painting in the open air was new, daring and different.

Among its pioneers were England's two most famous landscape painters: artistic rivals JMW Turner and John Constable.

Constable, 1776-1837, is best known for his depictions of what we now call 'Constable Country', the landscape around Dedham Vale, his Suffolk home, with his best known painting being The Hay Wain of 1821.

Meanwhile, fellow Romantic landscape painter Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775-1851, renowned for working wonders in capturing light in his landscapes and seascapes, is credited with promoting the genre to the level of the then much lauded history painting.

In an exhibition opening at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, on March 1, art-lovers will have the chance to compare the open-air styles and the methods employed by the pair.

Turner and Constable: Sketching from Nature will comprise 60 rarely-shown works on loan from the Tate Collection in London.

The range of watercolours, oil sketches and finished oil paintings feature picturesque scenes of rural nature, its rivers and coasts as well as cities.

Also included are some by the artists' contemporaries such as George Stubbs, John Sell Cotman, John Crome and Francis Danby who, similarly lured by the great outdoors, had taken to sketching and painting in the openair.

It means visitors can see the various techniques used to capture views of the landscapes of the time, both in Britain and abroad, and assess Constable's and Turner's methods.

Sometimes, as visitors will discover, surprising connections between the artistscome to light.

Turner and Constable: Sketching from Nature will run at the Laing Art Gallery from March 1 until June 29. Admission will cost PS7. There are family tickets and concessions available from the gallery or at www.laingartgallery.

org.uk but online tickets are subject to a 95p booking fee.

The exhibition was curated by Emeritus Professor Michael Rosenthal, of the University of Warwick, one of the world's experts on art of this period, Anne Lyles, a leading authority on Constable, who curated Tate Britain's 2006 show Constable: The Great Landscapes, and Dr Steven Parissien, the director of exhibition organiser Compton Verney allery and editor of an accompanying illustrated book produced by Tate Publishing.

CAPTION(S):

View of Richmond Hill and Bridge, exhibited 1808, Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Thames Near Walton Bridges, 1805, Joseph Mallord William Turner

Hampstead Heath with the House Called 'The Salt Box' c1819, John Constable
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 25, 2014
Words:554
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